Petition for disqualification of Sindh CM in dual nationality case dismissed

Published September 29, 2021
This file photo shows Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaking at the press conference in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV/File
This file photo shows Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah speaking at the press conference in Karachi. — DawnNewsTV/File

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking disqualification of Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah for allegedly filing a misdeclaration about his dual nationality in nomination papers for contesting election.

Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly Haleem Adil Sheikh of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had filed the petition.

A two-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh observed that the SHC had already turned down an identical petition in July 2018 while dealing with the renunciation of dual nationality of CM Shah and the Supreme Court had also dismissed a petition in January 2019 filed against the judgement of SHC.

Opposition leader Haleem Adil says he will challenge the SHC decision before apex court

It further said that even otherwise, the grant of relief in writ jurisdiction was a matter of discretion where the bona fides of the petitioner can be tested to see if he had come with clean hands, but admittedly there was a political rivalry between petitioner and the respondent in the present case.

While referring to the order of the apex court, the bench said that in view of the findings of the Supreme Court, which in terms of Article 189 of the Constitution carry binding effect, it was crystal clear that the bar contained in Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution was not attracted in the instant case.

The bench in its order further said, according to Article 62(1)(f) for declaring a candidate disqualified from being elected as a member of parliament or the provincial assembly there must be a declaration from a court of law.

The SHC division bench in its July 2018 judgement had ruled that admittedly the requisite certificate under the provisions of Section 9(3) of the Canadian Citizenship Act, 1985 regarding renunciation of Mr Shah’s Canadian citizenship had been issued on July 18, 2013 and manifestly Mr Shah ceased to be the Canadian citizen and therefore, the disqualification contained in Article 63(1)(c) could not apply to him in the by-election.

The opposition leader in his petition contended that the SC had disqualified Mr Shah and others in September 2012 in the dual nationality case and directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to initiate legal proceedings against them for filing misdeclaration.

The petitioner argued that in the light of the apex court order the ECP had asked all the members of the Sindh Assembly to submit a declaration form on oath, but instead of submitting the form Mr Shah tendered his resignation in November 2012 and the speaker had accepted it on the same day.

Thereafter, he submitted that Mr Shah had contested the by-election from the same constituency (PS-73 Jamshoro-cum-Dadu) in 2013 and in his nomination form he declared that he did not possess citizenship of any other country and also submitted a copy of application to renounce his Canadian citizenship.

The petitioner alleged that the incumbent chief minister had won the by-election on the basis of a false affidavit and in the 2013 general elections he also allegedly provided incorrect information in nomination papers and the returning officer rejected the same and RO’s order was upheld by an election tribunal. But the SHC had allowed the constitutional petition filed by Mr Shah to contest the election.

It may be recalled that an identical petition was already pending before the SHC against the chief minister filed by a regular litigant and in the last hearing, the ECP had informed the bench that an application seeking disqualification of Mr Shah was pending before it, as it was waiting for the decision of the SHC on criminal appeals filed against the decision of a district court that acquitted Mr Shah in 2014 in a complaint filed by the ECP in compliance with the SC order of 2012.

The ECP and the petitioner in the present case had filed criminal appeals against the acquittal of Mr Shah and the same was pending before the SHC.

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Sheikh told the media that he would approach the Supreme Court against the order of the SHC.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2021

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