ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s counsel contended on Thursday that if the apex court declares that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif cannot remain head of the party then that order should be prospective and retrospective.

Salman Akram Raja, representing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, said the candidates who have submitted the nomination papers to contest the Senate election is past and closed transaction. Therefore, the court should not penalise the aspiring candidates for Senate. “Why they should be prevented from contesting the election as this is their fundamental right and there is nothing wrong with this.”

In pursuance of the court order, the legal director of Election Commission of Pakistan submitted Senate tickets issued by the Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The PML-N ticket was signed by ex-PM Nawaz Sharif while PTI ticket by Imran Khan and PPP ticket by Farhatullah Babar.

The top court observed a person disqualified by a court of law is issuing party tickets to candidates aspiring for the upcoming Senate elections.

Salman Raja said ultimately the rights of the people should not be defeated if the court finds infirmity in the party head. He said there are two principle of law, one is de fecto doctrine and the other is a past and closed transaction. The actions of the party head are protected through a de facto doctrine

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, heard petitions challenging the controversial Election Act 2017 that paved the way for former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to become head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan observed that a person who was disqualified by the court is now issuing party tickets for the upcoming Senate elections. He, however, remarked if the head of a party is polluted, he pollutes the entire stream, adding that disqualified individual can gather 10 people form a party and then use them to further his agenda. The judge further said a disqualified person should not usurp the right of others to lead the party, adding that qualified persons should not be controlled by a disqualified person.

The chief justice observed that Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says openly that Nawaz Sharif is his premier, adding that they are observing what value the party head possesses.

When the counsel cited some Indian and USA judgments, the chief justice taking strong exception stopped him from referring the judgments, saying; “American law is useless and not persuasive to us.” “Please give us our constitution structure. The chief justice noted that verdicts by foreign supreme courts hold little value in Pakistan.

The PML-N counsel said former President of South Africa Neslon Mandela remained in jail for 30 years and was controlling his party from there. Upon that the chief justice interrupted him and said Nelson Mandela faced a political case and not a criminal trial.

To a query of Justice Ahsan, the PML-N counsel replied that though in Senate the bill was passed with one vote but no member of Senate from any political party gave vote against the bill. He said in the National Assembly all the parties members voted in favour of the bill. He said it was wrong impression that it was passed in haste in response to the Panama judgment.

Justice Ahsan said but the manner in which the Election Act was passed and sent to the President for consent gives this impression.

Raja contended that the court could strike down the constitutional amendment if that is against the basic features and Article 2A of Constitution. However, the statute could not be struck down even if it is violation of basic features of the constitution.

The counsel argued that he could not find any judgment which is struck down any law as it was person specific. He said in the National Reconciliation Ordinance was for the persons convicted under the Ehtesab Law. But the court did not strike it [NRO] down, adding nothing like provisions exit in the present Act.

He said that there is nothing in the constitution as who could not become the party head.

Salman Akram Raja concluded his arguments.

The case is adjourned until February 21.