SC accepts review petition seeking Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah's disqualification

Published August 6, 2019
Petitioner claims Shah owned an iqama and had Canadian nationality when he submitted nomination papers for 2013 elections. — DawnNewsTV/File
Petitioner claims Shah owned an iqama and had Canadian nationality when he submitted nomination papers for 2013 elections. — DawnNewsTV/File

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday accepted for hearing a review petition for the disqualification of Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah.

A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Azmat Saeed, sent Shah a notice to appear before the court in the case.

Petitioner Roshan Ali Buriro's lawyer Hamid Khan argued that Shah gave a false declaration while submitting his qualification papers for the 2013 election and that he was holding an iqama and dual nationality at the time.

In January, Supreme Court threw out Buriro's application seeking Shah's disqualification on the grounds that the petitioner had failed to produce enough arguments to satisfy the court.

At the time, Justice Umer Ata Bandial had pointed out that the Sindh chief minister had renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2013, therefore, he could not be disqualified on those grounds.

The bench had further said that the petitioner's intent was questionable as he was a political opponent of Shah.

"The prima facie [grounds for] disqualification are not clear in this case," Justice Bandial had said at the time.

"Shah did not submit any paperwork showing that he had given up his Canadian nationality and the court disqualified him on this basis," the lawyer told the court during Tuesday's maintainability hearing.

During the hearing, Justice Bandial — who was part of the SC bench that heard the original petition — pointed out that a court declaration regarding Article 62 is required in the matter. Upon this, Justice Saeed said that a court order suffices as a court declaration.

"Every electoral candidate provides a declaration to the returning officer and Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution applies to any declarations that are not based on the truth," Justice Saeed said, accepting the review petition.

Earlier, Buriro had filed a similar appeal with a returning officer that had been turned down. He had then approached the Sindh High Court which also dismissed his petition. Following the high court's decision, the petitioner approached the top court.

The SC bench at the time said that the petitioner had not challenged the returning officer's verdict in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), which is the relevant legal forum, and instead approached the high court.

"Why was the petition filed in the high court when a legal forum is available?" Justice Muneeb Akhtar had asked.

"Everyone keeps filing appeals for disqualification of office bearers in high courts or the Supreme Court," he had regretted at the time.

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