The Supreme Court of Pakistan, while hearing a suo motu case pertaining to the alleged dual nationality of five senators-elect, on Saturday issued an interim order stating that the senators-elect be sworn in and allowed to vote in the Senate chairmanship polls to be held on March 12.
However, the bench also ordered the constitution of a seven-member larger bench to examine the matter in detail and deliver a final verdict. Meanwhile, it ordered the ECP to notify the five senators-elect till the case is decided.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) issued 'conditional' notifications later in the day notifying the five senators-elect's victory, but said the notifications may change subject to the Supreme Court's final decision on the matter.
In today's hearing, Justice Ijazul Ahsan had asked what would happen to the Senate chairman's election if the five senators-elect — Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s sister Sadia Abbasi, Nuzhat Sadiq and Haroon Akhtar Khan of the PML-N, Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, and Kuhda Babar, an independent candidate from Balochistan — are disqualified in the future.
"This is a complicated matter and a larger seven-member bench will have to look into the matter," Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar replied, while ordering that a new bench be formed to deal with the case.
Sarwar told the court today that he had renounced his British citizenship in 2013, but the court nonetheless asked him what stake he had in Pakistan if his family remained British citizens and all his wealth was parked abroad too. The chief justice asked Sarwar to "satisfy" the court on these questions.
Justice Umar Ata Bandial added that the court would like to see how "loyal" those people who hold dual nationalities are, but hastened to add that the court has immense respect for overseas Pakistanis.
"We are speaking from the legal perspective," he explained.
Last week, the chief justice, while hearing a suo motu case concerning civil servants holding dual nationality, had ordered the ECP to withhold the notifications he was told by the attorney general (AG) that they allegedly possessed dual nationality.
The chief justice had directed the five senators-elect to submit affidavits that they had ‘permanently’ and ‘irrevocably’ renounced and surrendered their foreign nationality.
However, in the previous hearing of the case, the chief justice had said he had not known that the elections for the Senate chairman were to be held on March 12 when he ordered the withholding of the notifications of their victory in the March 3 polls. He had subsequently said the Supreme Court would decide on the matter today (March 10) so that any eligible senators-elect were not deprived of their right to vote.