The judiciary has the authority to decide the period of a lawmaker's disqualification, Barrister Ali Zafar told a five-member larger bench of the Supreme Court (SC) as the debate on the time period of disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution continued on Wednesday.
The five-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar also includes senior justices Sheikh Azmat Saeed, Umar Ata Bandial, Ijazul Ahsan and Sajjad Ali Shah.
Zafar, a judicial assistant to the court, said that the parliament had kept the Article 62(1)(f) open to interpretation "on purpose". Justice Nisar however, said that there must be a criterion to determine the period for which a lawmaker can be disqualified.
"We [the court] cannot disqualify one person for one year and another for five years," the CJP said.
The court agreed that a candidate could be disqualified for several reasons that may or may not require a court decree to be justified. Justice Saeed said that a person could be disqualified if he is 25 or fewer years of age even if he is a Pakistani citizen, which is the foremost condition for an assembly member.
Limiting himself to Article 62(1)(f), Barrister Zafar said that the article could be divided into three parts. He elaborated his argument by listing the three conditions of Article 62(1)(f): the candidate must not be a spendthrift and must be honest and mature. The bench raised questions over the first condition, asking how would a court determine whether a person has unnecessary expenses.
Barrister Zafar said that the minimum period of disqualification must be five years, however, a person must not be banned from holding office for life.
The case was adjourned until February 8.