ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court, hearing three identical petitions seeking disqualification of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his ‘misstatement’ in the National Assembly, acknowledged on Thursday that the Constitution was silent on the definition of ‘sadiq’ (truthful) and ‘ameen’ (righteous) — a virtue which individuals should possess to become members of parliament.

“There is no definition of sadiq and ameen in Article 260 of the Constitution — a provision that provides description and meaning of words used in the green book,” observed Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, a member of the three-judge bench which had taken up an appeal filed by Advocate Gohar Nawaz Sindhu against a Lahore High Court judgement.

These were the things which required the apex court’s interpretation, Mr Sindhu said.

The bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, delinked Mr Sindhu’s petition from those of PTI leader Ishaq Khakwani and PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain because it was an appeal against the LHC verdict which had rejected his plea on the grounds that the question raised in it was of political nature. Therefore, it did not require the court’s intervention whereas the two politicians had directly approached the Supreme Court with separate petitions.

The petitioners have sought disqualification of the prime minister for allegedly falsely stating in the National Assembly on Aug 29 that he had not asked the army chief to mediate or become a guarantor between the government and protesting Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and Pakistan Awami Tehreek to end their sit-ins on the Constitution Avenue.

Also read: Nawaz disqualification case: SC summons text of PM's speech

The Supreme Court will hear the petitions of Ishaq Khakwani and Chaudhry Shujaat on Tuesday (Oct 21) and of Mr Sindhu on Oct 23.

The court has already admitted that Mr Sindhu has the locus standi (legal right) to move the appeal, but asked him to submit his formulations in writing to break down his arguments in clear terms.

On Thursday, Justice Jawwad Khawaja observed that since the issue regarding disqualification of the members of parliament had come before the Supreme Court for the first time after the 18th Amendment of 2010, it had become incumbent upon the court to interpret Articles 62, 63 and 66.

The Article 62 deals with qualification, 63 disqualification and 66 privileges of the members of parliament.

The court decided to ask Attorney General Salman Butt to assist it in interpreting the articles.

Referring to the 2012 cases of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Mohammad Azhar Siddiqui, Advocate Sindhu argued that a member of parliament was liable to be disqualified if he made a false statement whether on the floor of the house or outside parliament.

He said that before the passage of the 18th Amendment, the National Assembly speaker had the authority to decide disqualification of a member, but after the amendment the authority shifted to courts. He cited the case of Yousuf Raza Gilani who had been disqualified for committing contempt of court two years ago.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2014

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