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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a petition seeking disqualification of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution for possessing dual nationality as well as an iqama.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial had taken up the petition moved by Roshan Ali Buriro on the grounds that Murad Ali Shah was neither righteous nor sagacious and, therefore, should be disqualified for life because he was disqualified earlier for having dual nationality.

Senior counsel Hamid Khan, representing the petitioner, argued that Mr Shah was a Canadian national and his nomination papers were rejected by a returning officer (RO) for possessing dual nationality. The RO also held that Mr Shah was neither Sadiq nor Ameen. Later, the Supreme Court in 2013 also upheld the RO’s order through a judgement, the counsel argued.

But the court observed that the RO was not a court of law.

However, the counsel contended that the apex court’s order of upholding the RO decision became final after it owned the decision of that officer.

The court noted that Mr Shah had applied for renouncing his citizenship in Sept 29, 2012, and got a certificate from the Canadian authorities about cancellation of his citizenship on July 18, 2013.

The bench observed that the political rivals should seek remedy from the appropriate forums, instead of directly challenging the acceptance of the nomination papers later for the 2018 general elections before the Sindh High Court which also had dismissed the plea from PS-73 Jamshoro-cum-Dadu.

During the hearing, Justice Muneeb Akhtar also regretted that direct petitions were being filed either in the high court or the Supreme Court to seek disqualification of elected members despite the fact that legal forums were available.

The court observed that after renouncing the citizenship of Canada and later receiving the certificate, Mr Shah did not fall within the meaning of Article 63(1)(c) which bars a member from contesting the election if he becomes a foreign citizen. And thus his disqualification to become the member has ended.

A plea to remove someone’s membership could not be heard merely on the grounds of political rivalries, the court observed.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2019