Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday declared multiple petitions challenging the Election Act 2017 maintainable, and issued notices to the defence and prosecution ─ including former premier Nawaz Sharif ─ in reference to the case.
Several petitions had been filed against the Election Act 2017 by the PPP, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed, Jamshed Dasti, and others in 2017. The petitioners have objected to an amendment to elections laws that permit a disqualified politician to head a political party.
Sheikh Rashid's lawyer Farrogh Naseem maintained before the three-judge bench that it was the citizens' right to be governed by an honest person.
He said that the Election Act was passed in Senate by a margin of only a single vote. The CJP, however, dismissed this argument, saying that "one vote was enough to pass a law".
Naseem asserted that it is compulsory that a political party's head be sadiq (truthful) and ameen (trustworthy) as per Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution.
"If a person's membership of the Parliament has been terminated, he cannot head a political party ─ is that what you are trying to say?" the CJP asked, adding that he was being very careful with the usage of the term 'disqualified'.
Naseem responded that Article 63 gave the party chief authority to issue tickets to party members to contest for seats in the assembly, and thus the power to "control members of Parliament".
During the hearing, the CJP had earlier described the petitions as "political", and had rejected the appeal by one of the petitioners that asked the SC to "issue a notice" to the defence.
"We cannot issue a notice or nullify a law just because someone has filed a petition," Justice Nisar had told the prosecution. "You need to prepare a strong case to convince the court."
He further remarked that the SC has never annulled any law passed by Parliament, which is the "supreme lawmaking body".
"There is no precedent of the Supreme Court nullifying a law passed by the Parliament," he said, adding that the court has to "abide by the law".
The case was adjourned until January 23.