After the Islamabad High Court (IHC) disqualified Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) politician Khawaja Asif from the parliament in April, the Supreme Court of Pakistan, a month later, reversed the decision. Yet the Court did not release the detailed judgment at the time- leaving questions on the scope of Article 62 and 63 and how it was applied differently in this case. Now, after three months, the detailed judgment is here to quell our queries.

Thankfully the detailed judgment reversing Asif’s disqualification limits the scope of Article 62 and 63. The judgment, penned down by Justice Faisal Arab, addresses the many concerns that the public has had with the liberal and arbitrary use of the disqualification clause, with the SC clarifying that intention of dishonesty is an important component while determining who was “sadiq and ameen”. Thus in cases of mere mistakes, or where outright mala fide intention was not proved, there could not be a disqualification. Justice Faisal Arab wrote: “The test of honesty with regard to non-disclosure of assets and liabilities is to be applied in that context only and certainly not in a case where a clean asset has not been declared on account of bad judgement or inadvertent omission,”- finally settling the question whether mere non-disclosure is enough to disqualify a parliamentarian.

A concrete take on the scope of Article 62 and 63 and how strict liability to the clause should not be applied was ardently needed after the last year, which saw an abundance of disqualifications of parliamentarians, leaving everyone confused to the applicability of the law. Frequent disqualifications also prompted a debate on whether these contentious articles of the constitutions, if they were used so liberally, could be used as weapons against politicians. Clarifications and limitations on the scope of these articles only do the legal order of the country a favour, and retains affirms credibility of the judiciary.

However, confusion still remains. This detailed judgment of this liberal order comes days after the different judges of the SC harshly applied Article 62 and 63 by disqualifying two PML-N senators on the basis of dual nationality- causing ambiguity on which legal precedent will be followed.

The Khawaja Asif judgement is rational and gives legal and reasonable basis for its claims. . It is hoped it will be used as the standard in future article 62/63 cases and perhaps previous decisions can be reviewed too.