LAHORE - After a hard-fought legal battle by more than a year, the Sharif brothers have been finally given clean chit by the Supreme Court but it only happened after the reinstatement of free judiciary for which they fought hard. The long saga of Sharifs dejection and annoyance over their disqualification finally ended at a happy note on Tuesday. The entire events started with their return to the country from eight years exile, only two days before the last date of filing nomination papers in general elections. Both Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif had submitted their nomination papers for different Provincial and National Assemblies seats but the Returning Officers (Additional Sessions Judges) rejected their papers on the grounds that Nawaz was convicted in plane hijacking case and tax evasion case while Shahbaz Sharif was involved in the Sabzazar encounter case and court had declared him absconder. The Sharif brothers did not challenge their disqualification before election tribunals of the Lahore High Court because they were of the view that they would not appear before PCO judges. However, they made a representation before the Chief Election Commission who turned it down saying that their eligibility could only be decided by a competent forum (LHC). The elections were scheduled to be held on January 8, 2008 but were rescheduled for February 18 after assassination of PPP Chairperson Benazir Bhutto. As a result of February 18 elections, PML-N and PPP formed a coalition govt. Meanwhile Shahbaz Sharif was acquitted in Sabzazar case by an Anti-Terrorist Court. When the by-election approached both the Sharifs again tried their fortune and this time ROs accepted their nomination papers rejecting all objections filed against their candidatures. Noor Elahi, a rival candidate of Nawaz and Khurram Shah, a voter, challenged ROs decisions in appellate tribunal of the LHC. The tribunal comprising Justice Akram Qureshi and Justice Hafiz Tariq Nasim gave a split decision as former held Sharifs ineligible on account of hurling abuses on judiciary while latter declared them eligible. The split verdict paved way for Sharifs to contest election but only for time being. The Chief Election Commission allowed them to contest election on the ground that the tribunal had failed to make a decision in stipulated time therefore the ROs verdicts would hold the field under the law. However, Khurram Shah and Noor Elahi assailed that orders through Constitutional petitions before the LHC and a three member full bench was formed to hear the cases. During hearing of the case, Shahbaz was elected unopposed from PP-48 Bhakkar and took oath as Chief Minister on June 8. The three-member bench was dissolved after PML-N lawyers objected the presence of two judges on the bench, saying they had close relations with PML-Q leadership. The bench comprised Justice Fazal-e-Miran Chohan, Justice Hasnat Ahmed and Justice Ahsan Bhoon. The then chief Justice LHC Justice Sayed Zahid Hussain formed a new bench headed by Justice Abdul Shakoor Paracha. Mr Justice M. Bilal Khan and Mr Justice Syed Shabbar Raza Rizvi. The full bench disqualified Nawaz Sharif citing his conviction while provisionally allowed Shahbaz Sharif to continue as CM with direction to the CEC to constitute a three-member Election Tribunal to decide objections against his candidature. Sharifs again decided not to file an appeal in Supreme Court before the PCO judges. However, Federation of Pakistan challenged that decision in the SC that stopped ECP from holding by-election in NA-123 Lahore . But the bench comprising PCO judges, Justice Muhammad Moosa K. Leghari, Justice Syed Sakhi Hussain Bukhari and Justice Sheikh Hakim Ali after hearing length arguments of eight months disqualified the Sharif brothers on February 25. As a result of that decision Shahbaz Sharif was de-seated and lost Chief Ministers office. With all options exhausted, Sharifs started backing popular lawyers movement with full force. Eventually Sharifs and lawyers two years long struggle born fruit as a result Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani restored deposed judges on March 16. As Sharifs were vindicated, they decide to appear before SC in review petitions against disqualification order. SC five member bench headed by Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jilani restored Shahbaz govt to its Feb-24 position by issuing a stay order on March 31. The same on Tuesday held both brothers eligible by overturning SCs decision.