LAHORE - Legal experts say that prime minister, chief ministers and the ministers, if booked in any criminal case, can hold public offices until the allegations leveled against them are proved.

The lawyers, however, have expressed their reservations over the transparent investigation against the big guns holding highest offices of the country.

Talking to The Nation on Thursday, former Supreme Court Bar Association president Asrar-ul-Haq Mian said there is no legal bar in way of any political leader from holding public office if he is booked in any criminal case. He said the parliamentarians including the prime minister, chief ministers would continue functioning till the allegations against them are proved in investigation.

Asrar Mian, however, stated that the investigation agencies can be influenced by any political party or political leader but, he added, nobody should doubt the investigation. He quoted the example of those parliamentarians who were accused of rigging but they held public offices until the election tribunal or election commission declared them disqualified.

Pakistan Bar Council member and senior lawyer advocate Akhtar Hussain stated that if politicians including the prime minister and chief ministers are booked in any criminal case, they will continue holding public offices till they are proved guilty and convicted by the court of law.

But morally, he said, every politician whether he is a prime minister or a chief minister should step down because it is the beauty of a democratic society. “No legal bar is there in holding public office if the PM, CM or any other is booked in any criminal case,” he pointed out.

Jurist Dr Muhammad Hayat Kalasan advocate said there is no immunity to prime minister or any executive of the province in any criminal case. He said prime minister and the chief ministers cannot be deprived of their mandate till the investigation agencies prove them guilty. He said police should hold transparent investigation.

Judicial Activism Penal chairman advocate Azhar Siddique, while expressing his concerns about the investigation of the current FIR 696/14 registered against the Punjab chief minister and others, said police intentionally did not add 7-ATA in the FIR in order to stop joint investigation team from holding investigation of the case.

“In the prevailing circumstances, no JIT under the law can be formed and in view of 18 (6) of the police order, 2002, investigation can be changed from any police officer below the rank of SHO to DSP,” said Siddique.

On Thursday, police booked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, former law minister Rana Sanaullah, former principal secretary to CM Dr Tauqeer Shah, other politicians of PML-N and police officials involved in Model Town tragedy which left 15 dead and 85 others injured on June 17.

LHC ASKS CJ TO CONSTITUTE SC COMMISSION: Lahore High Court Justice Ameer Bhatti on Thursday referred a petition to the Chief Justice and requested him to constitute a judicial commission comprising judges of the Supreme Court to hold inquiry into the Model Town tragedy.

The judge observed that the petitioner raised certain questions which necessitated the constitution of a judicial commission.

Moved by Advocate Muhammad Irfan, the petition argued that the inquiry already conducted by a one-judge tribunal of LHC was vague, uncertain and failed to establish the case. He said the inquiry report should be set aside as it failed to unearth the truth. 

He implored the court to issue directions to the Punjab government to constitute a judicial commission in the light of the suggestions given by Minhajul Quran representatives. The petitioner told the judge that the aggrieved party had also confidence in the Supreme Court while the inquiry held by the LHC tribunal was ‘partial’ as no representative of the aggrieved party had appeared before it.

After hearing the arguments, the judge referred the petition to the chief justice, requesting him to constitute a larger bench.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Awami Tehrik also filed a writ petition in the Lahore High Court seeking dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies. 

Punjab PAT vice-president Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, the petitioner, submitted that majority of the members of the parliament did not qualify under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution. The petitioner alleged that development projects are not started unless the MNAs received their commission. He sought the dissolution of the national and provincial assemblies with directions to the election commission to hold fresh elections, so that a real democratic government could be established.