A three-member larger bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) which disqualified veteran politician and Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif observed in its judgment that political forces should settle their grievances on the political forums.
“However, when political forces, instead of settling disputes at the political forums, particularly the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) resort to the courts, it has consequences not only for the institutions but the litigant public as well,” the concluding statements of judgement read.
“This conduct of political forces lowers public confidence in the Legislature on the one hand and on the other hand exposes the institution of the judiciary to the controversies of adversarial politics. The political forces are expected to settle their grievances before the political forums rather than taking the precious time of the bona fide litigants awaiting justice to be dispensed,” the judges added.
Stating that it would have “been appropriate if the political party to which the petitioner belongs had raised the issue at hand in the Parliament before invoking the jurisdiction of this court”, the judgment read, “Parliament is a symbol of unity of the Federation and the peoples will“.
Parliament deserves the utmost respect and its prestige and public confidence depends on the conduct of its members who represent the actual stakeholders ie the people of Pakistan. It would have been appropriate if the political party to which the Petitioner belongs had raised the issue at hand in the Parliament before invoking the jurisdiction of this court.
The three-member bench made an important observation in their judgement that how political disputes brought to courts affect the working of the courts and delay other routine cases. There is no doubt that the cases of political nature not only consume a lot of time of the courts but also drag the courts into the political controversies.
The petition was filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Usman Dar who was defeated by Asif in the NA-110 constituency of Sialkot in the 2013 general elections by around 20,000 votes. Usman Dar tried his luck in the election tribunal and then in the Supreme Court to disqualify his opponent Khawaja Asif on the allegations of rigging in the elections but failed to unseat him. Both Election tribunal and Supreme Court ruled in favour of Khawaja Asif.
Usman Dar decided to try his luck in the Islamabad High Court after the Supreme Court verdict to disqualify Nawaz Sharif for not declaring his Iqama and salary in his nomination papers. He filed the petition in the Islamabad High Court to seek Khawaja Asif’s disqualification.
IHC pointed out in its judgement that there should be a code of ethics and conduct for the members of parliament and ministers to avoid such situations.
“It is ironic that Pakistan is amongst the few countries where a formal code of ethics and conduct for members of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) and the Cabinet has not been prescribed so as to avoid situations such as having been observed in the facts and circumstances of the instant petition.”
The three bench members unanimously ruled that Asif was not qualified to contest the 2013 general election from NA-110 as he did not fulfill the conditions described under Article 62(1) (f) of the Constitution, read with Section 99(1)(f) of the Representation of People Act 1976.
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17 November, 2019