ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Thursday decided to interpret the question of law whether the lifetime disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) stands nullified if a contesting candidate is acquitted in a criminal proceeding initiated under the top court’s order.

The top court further decided to also interpret whether a candidate, who withdrew his nomination papers and no more is in the election race, can validly challenge the candidature of another contesting candidate through an appeal under Section 63 of Election Act 2017.

The top court issued a notice to the Attorney General for Pakistan on the issue.

Besides framing the above-mentioned two issues for interpretation, the top court also allowed Khawaja Muhammad Islam to contest elections from PP-111, Faisalabad-XV.

The rulings were made by a three-judge bench headed by Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed and comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan and Justice Munib Akhtar on an appeal filed by a voter, Hamza Rasheed Khan, who had earlier filed his nomination papers from the said constituency as an independent candidate and then withdrew the same.

During the hearing, Justice Ahsan asked about the locus standi of the appellant seeking restraining orders for Islam to contest the elections on account of the top court’s earlier judgment wherein the latter was declared disqualified on a fake degree.

Advocate Kamran Murtaza representing Khan responded that the court can hear the issue under Article 184 (3). To this, the bench observed that converting the plea into Article 184 (3) was the discretion of the top court.

Justice Saeed asked the counsel if a person, who is neither a candidate nor an objector, could challenge the candidature of another contesting candidate.  Advocate Murtaza, while relying on a judgment issued in the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s case, responded that an appeal could be filed.

However, Justice Ahsan observed that such an appeal could be filed after the election and prior to the election. 

According to the petitioner, the nomination papers filed by Islam proved that the papers suffered from deception adding that a candidate was required to state his educational qualification while Islam had written as ‘educated’ which was an outright deception.

“There can be no conclusion except that the respondent No-3 (Islam) has acted in a malicious manner to conceal is educational qualification and thus can never be considered to be an honest and trustworthy man,” the appeal said.

It said that “Islam by no means could be considered qualified to contest the election and his nomination papers could not be accepted and the appellate court had committed a jurisdictional error in dismissing the appeal filed by the petitioner”.

Azam Nazeer Tarrar, representing Islam, contended that the BBA degree of his client was declared to be fake in 2013 and subsequently criminal proceedings were initiated against him along with orders for de-seating him.

He, however, said that after recording of evidence in the trial, his client’s degree was proved genuine and he was acquitted from the charges. He said that the high court and the top court dismissed the appeals of the Election Commission of Pakistan and upheld the acquittal orders of his client.

The top court while allowing Islam to contest the election ruled for consideration of the two issues and adjourned the hearing for date-in-office.