ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court on Friday accepted a petition filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf against the disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and fixed the case for hearing in the next week.

PTI leader Ishaq Khan Khakwani filed a petition on September 2 through his counsel, Irfan Qadir, requesting the apex court to disqualify PM Nawaz Sharif for making a controversial statement on the floor of the National Assembly regarding the role of the army in the ongoing crisis.

The petition mentioned that the prime minister had asked the army chief to act as a mediator between the government, PTI Chairman Imran Khan and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, but, later, he changed his statement.

The SC Registrar office had raised objections to the application, which Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk removed in his chamber on Friday and fixed the case for hearing for next week.

Irfan Qadir, counsel for the applicant, appeared before the chief justice and contended that the registrar had no power to decide as to whether the petition was maintainable or not.

He also stated that the SC’s office order was contrary to a plethora of judicial precedents of recent years of the post-restoration period of former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, according to which petitions were entertained in similar circumstances against sitting prime ministers, federal ministers and parliamentarians and many of them were directly disqualified by the SC with further directions to the Election Commission of Pakistan to de-notify those holders of public offices.

“The question of maintainability is to be decided by the Supreme Court in terms of Article 184 (3) of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In the instant case, the institution officer has exercised the functions of the Supreme Court,” the PTI leader’s appeal says.

After hearing the arguments, the CJ set aside the registrar office objections and fixed the case before the bench for preliminary hearing in next week.

The registrar office had rejected the PTI leader’s plea on the ground that none of the fundamental rights of the petitioner had been violated, so he has no locus standi to file a petition for the disqualification of the prime minister. “A sitting prime minister cannot be implicated as a party under Article 248 of the Constitution,” it had added.

Our staff reporter adds from Lahore: PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has filed a petition in the Supreme Court seeking disqualification of Prime Minister under Article 62 (F) while Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan, PAT head Dr Tahirul Qadri and PTI chairman Imran Khan have also been made parties.

In the constitutional petition filed through Irfan Qadir and Sardar Abdur Razzaq advocates, it has been prayed that during the sit-ins of Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan in Islamabad Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to play a role in resolving the ongoing crisis on which the army chief met the two leaders of the long marches and sit-ins. But on protest from the opposition Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif made a statement next day on the floor of the parliament that he had not asked the army chief to become a mediator.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, during his speech in the parliament, also stated that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had told him that Dr Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan had requested General Raheel Sharif that they wanted to meet him, on which the PM said if Qadri and Imran had made a request, then the army chief might meet them. Later, ISPR clarified in a press release, stating that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had asked the army chief to play the role of a facilitator in resolving this crisis and on the desire of the prime minister the army chief met with both the sit-in leaders.  It was further submitted in the petition that on making a false statement on the floor of the Parliament, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is no longer “Sadiq and Ameen” under Article 62(F) and stands disqualified from becoming a member of the assembly and prime minister.

It was also submitted in the petition that in 2009 Nawaz Sharif himself had organised a long march for his political objectives, but today he was terming long marches against him illegal. This petition is the most important constitutional matter and the Supreme Court should take notice of it, the petition stated.  The Election Commission of Pakistan and the defence secretary have also been made parties to the case.