ISLAMABAD  -  The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday disqualified Senator Sadia Abbasi, a sister of former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) over holding dual nationalities.

A seven-member larger bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar was hearing the case related to the dual nationality of four senators.

Barrister Ali Zafer appeared on behalf of Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan and argued that his client is a Pakistani citizen by birth and he had obtained Canadian nationality about 30 years ago.

He informed the court that his client has submitted an affidavit regarding relinquishing Canadian nationality in the court but he was questioned by the chief justice whether his client has submitted a certificate in this regard or not?

“The certificate has not been issued to my client yet,” Zafer told the bench and tried further to convince the bench regarding inconsistency of the Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution with Article 17 of the Constitution.

Meanwhile, Ahmer Bilal Soofi, an advocate representing Senator Sadia Abbasi, informed the court that a certificate of relinquishing foreign nationality has been submitted in the court.

However, Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan pointed out that the certificate submitted by Senator Sadia Abbasi is issued to her after the filing of nomination papers for Senate polls 2018 while it was required at the time of submitting the nomination papers.

“According to the spirit of the Article 62 and 63, a person shall not have a dual nationality at the time of filing nomination papers but your client was a citizen of the United States at that time,” he maintained.

Ahmer Bilal Soofi tried to convince the court by arguing that several countries allow citizens with dual nationality and cited the example of the United Kingdom where people with Pakistani origin are taking part in parliamentary politics.

However, the CJP stated that amending the constitution is the mandate of legislature not the Supreme Court. He said, according to the existing law, no person with dual nationality could become Member of Parliament.

Bilal Minto, an amicus curiae appointed by the court in the instant case to assist the court, also presented his arguments.

Following his arguments, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar gave the orders of the disqualification of Senator Haroon Akhtar Khan and Senator Sadia Abbasi under Article 63 (1)(c) of the 1973 Constitution. The said article pertains to a person’s disqualification from Parliament due to holding the nationality of a country other than Pakistan.

The court in its short order directed the Election Commission of Pakistan to denotify these two senators from the membership of the upper house of the parliament and hold fresh elections to fill the vacancy.

Meanwhile, the chief justice also directed the counsels of Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar and PML-N’s Nuzhat Sadiq to furnish their clients’ verified affidavits showing that they had given up their second nationalities before filing their nomination papers.

The Supreme Court during a hearing of a suo motu case concerning civil servants holding dual nationality had ordered the Election Commission of Pakistan to withhold the notifications of four senators-elect who allegedly possess dual nationality. However, later on the top court had allowed them to cast their votes for the election of the Chairman and Deputy Chairman Senate.

 

Muhammad Asad Chaudhry