ISLAMABAD: Upholding the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) decision to disqualify Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stalwart Faisal Vawda for life, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday dismissed his petition with the observation that the ECP was bound to give effect to the apex court declarations and “that is what it has done”.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah observed that the shady conduct of Mr Vawda was the reason for his disqualification. “The petitioner’s [Vawda] conduct has led to disqualification of an elected representative and, regrettably, he alone is responsible for the consequences,” the verdict said.

On February 9, the ECP denotified Senator Faisal Vawda after ordering his lifetime disqualification from the parliament for concealing his US citizenship at the time of filing of his nomination papers. The commission also directed Mr Vawda to return within two months the salary and other benefits he had received as a minister and a member of the National Assembly.

Challenging the ECP verdict before the IHC single bench consisting of CJ Minallah, Mr Vawda’s counsel Waseem Sajjad argued that the ECP lacked jurisdiction to invoke Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution and to disqualify him for life since it was not a court of law.

According to him, Section 8(c) of The Elections Act, 2017 grants power to the ECP to conduct an election but does not empower it to disqualify a candidate for life.

Mr Vawda secured the National Assembly seat (NA-249) in July 2018 general elections by narrowly defeating the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif. Two years later, a complaint filed before the ECP against his election stated that he was holding dual nationality at the time of filing of nomination papers. Subsequently, a petition seeking his disqualification was filed before the IHC. It was alleged that he had filed a false affidavit pursuant to the Supreme Court judgement in the Habib Akram case.

The SC in the said case observed: “If the affidavit or any part thereof is found false, then it shall have consequences, as contemplated by the Constitution and the law.”

Justice Minallah noted that Mr Vawda’s conduct before the IHC remained evasive for reasons best known to him, because he kept delaying the proceedings on one pretext or the other. After delaying the proceedings for more than a year, he informed the court that he had resigned from the National Assembly. Soon after his resignation, he was elected to the upper house of the parliament.

Subsequently, the IHC on March 3, 2021 disposed of the petition against his disqualification, observing “matter of furnishing false affidavit is to be probed by the ECP since the same was submitted before it and the commission may pass appropriate orders with respect to the same.”

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2022

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