A seven-judge Supreme Court bench commenced hearing the issue of lifetime disqualification of parliament members. The bench will determine whether aspirants disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution could contest polls in light of the amendments in the Elections Act 2017. The law requires parliament members to be “sadiq and ameen” (honest and righteous). The legal dilemma arose due to a 2018 Supreme Court judgment, which ruled that the disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) was for life, but an amendment in 2023 specified a five-year disqualification period. The issue of electoral disqualification has created confusion ahead of the upcoming elections. During the hearing, the Attorney General urged the court to revisit the law and review its previous ruling on lifetime disqualification. The Chief Justice remarked on the difficulties of determining one’s character and the interpretation of Article 63. The Attorney General argued that the Supreme Court had ignored a point in a previous case, and the Chief Justice expressed doubts about determining someone’s exemplary character based on Islamic teachings. He also mentioned that even Quaid-e-Azam would have been disqualified if all these conditions were present earlier. More updates on this issue will follow.
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