IHC takes up plea seeking disqualification of Khwaja Asif
Islamabad – The Islamabad High Court will on Monday take up two important cases including a petition of Milli Muslim League (MML) challenging the ECP’s decision not to enlist it as a political party and PTI leader Usman Dar’s petition seeking disqualification of Federal Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for concealing his Iqama.
In the first matter, a single bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq had conducted hearing of the petition and directed Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Interior Ministry to submit their reply.
The President of MML, Saifullah Khalid, approached the IHC and cited ECP and Secretary Interior as respondents in this matter.
The petitioner adopted in the petition that the ECP issued an order dated October 11 whereby he has been denied the enlisting of MML as a political party. He added that the order of ECP was mala fide without the application of independent mind, beyond jurisdiction, arbitrary, unreasonable, unfounded and illegal. It is also a violation of the Constitution, the Political Parties Order, 2002 and the Political Parties Rules, 2002.
He stated that it had been debating since a long time whether any political party, of the 352 enlisted by the ECP, fulfils the requirements of a political party in the real sense of the word and represents the people of Pakistan in all the federating units.
“Such political parties instead of promoting harmony, patriotism, ideology of Pakistan, protecting the rights of people of Pakistan enshrined in the Constitution, are damaging the country’s identity, and working to protect the personal interests of the corrupt elite governing the country,” read the petition.
It added that a political party MML was formed in accordance with Article 17 (2) of the Constitution read with Article 3 of PPO, 2002.
However, the petitioner said that it was October 11 when ECP without hearing the petitioner’s counsel declined to enlist the party (MML) as political party in the record of ECP on the plea that Ministry of Interior has directed to avoid the registration of the party.
He adopted that the order passed by ECP is liable to be set aside and declared as illegal. “That Article 17 (2) of the Constitution confers a fundamental right of every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, to form or to be a member of a political party, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan,” he maintained.
Therefore, he prayed to the court that the ECP should scrutinize documents of the petitioner afresh strictly in accordance with law and enlist the party in its record.
He further requested the court to direct secretary interior not to interfere in the affairs of enlisting of MML.
In another case, Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar’s moved petition seeking disqualification of Federal Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif for concealing his Iqama.
A three-member larger bench of IHC comprising Justice Aamer Farooq, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani and Justice Miangul Hassan Aurangzeb had previously conducted hearing of the petition moved by Usman Dar and directed the respondents to submit their para-wise comments in this matter.
During the hearing, Khawaja Asif’s counsel submitted an application seeking time to submit reply in the petition as his client was out of the country.
At this juncture, the court directed him to submit the reply and adjourned the hearing till November 13 for further proceedings in this connection.
The PTI leader has sought disqualification of the federal minister for foreign affairs on the grounds that Khawaja Asif had concealed the fact that he was an Iqama holder, legal advisor of a company in UAE and that his labour card was issued on June 29, 2017.
Petitioner Muhammad Usman Dar has moved the petition through his counsel Sikandar Bashir Advocate and nominated Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and secretary National Assembly as respondents.
Dar stated that he was a candidate for the national assembly seat in 2013 general elections from NA-110 Sialkot on the ticket of PTI.
Petitioner’s counsel mentioned in the petition that on the basis of the information and facts that have recently come under the petitioner’s knowledge and the documents bearing signatures and photographs of the Respondent No. 1 available with him, he considered it his national duty and lawful obligation to institute a petition under Article 199(1)(b)(ii) against the Respondent No. 1 as he is not entitled to hold the office of MNA nor that of Federal Minister being disqualified under the Constitution.
Therefore, Dar requested the court to initiate quo-warranto inquisitorial proceedings requiring the respondent to explain why he is unlawfully holding public office.
In his petition, Usman said that Khawaja Asif is a full time employee of an Abu Dhabi based company Int. Mech & Elec Co. LLC (IMECL) and has been employed since July 2, 2011.
The petitioner attached documents on the basis of which he claimed that Khawaja Asif remained a full-time salaried employee of the company on various positions including ‘Legal Advisor’ and ‘Special Advisor’.
The petitioner said that against his employment, Asif was entitled to receive 35000/- UAE Dirham as salary and 15000 AED as monthly allowances that is being received and currently receivable being an MNA as well as foreign minister of the country.
He contended that because Asif never disclosed this source of income in Pakistan therefore he is no more ‘Sadiq’ and ‘Ameen’. Before his recent employment Asif had also been an ‘Iqama’ holder previously from May 9, 2007 till May 8, 2010. UAE ministry of labour also issued ‘Labour Card’ to Asif on June 29, 2017 whose validity is till June 28, 2019. In his nomination papers for 2013 general elections, Asif mentioned his occupation as a businessman while the employment contract reveals another story, the petition said.
He argued that the respondent intentionally concealed this information from the public, from the federal board of revenue (FBR) in his tax returns and in violation of Representation of People Act (ROPA) 1976.
The petitioner said that Khawaja has disclosed in his wealth statement an amount of Rs-6820964/- as foreign remittance but that cannot be related as Asif did not mention this amount as salary. The PTI leader prayed to the court to disqualify Khawaja Asif under article 62 and ROPA 1976.