ISLAMABAD -  Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif on Monday challenged the formation of a larger bench of the Islamabad High Court to hear a petition of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Usman Dar, seeking his disqualification for concealing Iqama.

“The constitution of a larger bench by this court has directly deprived me of my substantive right to an appeal under Section 3 of the Law Reforms Ordinance 1972,” said the minister.

A three-member IHC larger bench , comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb, deferred the proceedings after the federal minister sought time to submit his reply regarding Iqama, a UAE work permit issued in his name. Accepting his plea, the larger bench adjourned the hearing till November 30.

Earlier, in his reply, the federal minister contended the petitioner had already exhausted all remedies up to the Supreme Court in attempting to seek a finding of corrupt practices or disqualification against him.

He maintained the deprivation of a substantive right to appeal is manifestly repugnant to the Islamic injunctions of justice. He also prayed to the court to consider in the first instance whether it would be fit, proper and appropriate to dismiss the petition against him.

PTI leader Dar has sought disqualification of the federal minister for concealing the facts that he was an Iqama holder and a legal adviser of a company in the UAE while his recent labour card was issued on June 29, 2017.

Dar has moved the petition through his counsel Sikandar Bashir, nominating Khawaja Asif , the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the National Assembly secretary as respondents.

Dar stated that he was a candidate for NA-110 Sialkot seat in 2013 general elections on the PTI ticket. He added that on the basis of information and facts which have recently become known to the petitioner and the documents bearing Kh Asif’s signatures and photographs available with him, he considered it his national duty and lawful obligation to institute a petition under Article 199(1)(b)(ii) against the minister as he was neither entitled to hold the office of MNA nor that of a federal minister for he deserved disqualification under the Constitution.

Dar has requested the court to initiate quo-warranto inquisitorial proceedings in this regard, requiring the respondent to explain under what authority of law he was holding the public office.

The petitioner said that Asif is full time employee of an Abu Dhabi based company Int Mech & Elec Co LLC (IMECL) and continuous to be employed since July 2, 2011.

The petitioner attached some documents with the petition on the basis of which he claimed Asif remained a full-time salaried employee of the company on various positions, including legal adviser and special adviser.

The petitioner said against his employment, Asif was entitled to receive 35,000 UAE dirhams as salary and 15,000 as monthly allowances which were being received and currently receivable being an MNA as well as the foreign minister of the country.

He contended Asif never disclosed this source of income in Pakistan, so he was no more ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. He said before his recent employment, Asif had also been an Iqama-holder from May 9, 2007, till May 8, 2010. The UAE ministry of labour also issued a labour card to Asif on June 29, 2017, which is valid till June 28, 2019. In his nomination papers for 2013 general election, Asif mentioned his occupation as a businessman while the employment contract reveals another story, the petition said.

He argued the respondent intentionally concealed this information from the public, the federal board of revenue (FBR) in his tax returns in violation of Representation of People Act (ROPA) 1976.

The petitioner said Asif has disclosed in his wealth statement an amount of Rs 6.820 million as foreign remittance, but did not mention this amount as salary.

The PTI leader prayed to the court to disqualify Asif as a member of the National Assembly under Article 62 and ROPA 1976.