THE Supreme Court on Sunday issued a four-page order ruling that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has no jurisdiction under the Constitution to decide the pre-election disqualification of a lawmaker.

Nullifying the verdicts of the ECP and high court in a case relating to disqualification of former PTI senator Faisal Vawda, the SC order said: “ECP has no jurisdiction [...] to inquire into and decide upon the matter of pre-election disqualification and disqualification of a returned candidate.”

According to GeoNews, the judgement was authored by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial, who along with Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ayesha Malik, heard the case.

The order recalled that Faisal Vawda informed the bench that he had received a citizenship renunciation certificate from the US authorities on June 25, 2018, adding that he had admitted his mistake and apologised to the Supreme Court unconditionally.

Rules that ECP lacks jurisdiction to decide pre-poll disqualification of lawmaker

Mr Vawda was not eligible to contest the elections in 2018, the short order noted, but added that after tendering an unconditional apology, Article 63 (1) (C) was applied to him, and now he can contest elections for the next assembly term.

Hence, the former PTI leader would be considered disqualified till the end of the incumbent parliament’s tenure. He is eligible to contest the next elections in the country, read the short order.

The apex court directed the authorities concerned to forward Mr Vawda’s resignation to the Senate chairman for further process.

During the last hearing on Nov 25, the Supreme Court had revoked the lifetime ban, which barred the former PTI leader from contesting elections, after he tendered an unconditional apology.

The ECP had on Feb 9 imposed a lifetime ban on Mr Vawda for concealing his dual nationality at the time of filing of papers for contesting the election for a National Assembly seat in the 2018 elections. The ECP also directed him to return the salary and other benefits he had received as a minister and as a member of the National Assembly within two months. It had also de-notified him as a senator.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2022

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