LAHORE: Though the legal fraternity remains divided over the legal recourse available to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif after the apex court shuts the door to review time-barred decisions taken under article 184(3), the PML-N supremo’s issue of lifetime disqualification will ultimately land in the court.
The decision of the apex court to reject the retrospective application of practice and procedure act was a momentary setback for Nawaz whose disqualification stands for life under the existing laws.
Experts believe that the former premier, if not directly, can indirectly approach the court to do away with his lifetime disqualification under the election act amendments wherein disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) had been limited to five years.
Both Nawaz and Istehkam-e-Pakistan leader Jahangir Tareen were disqualified for life under this article in 2017.
Former special assistant to prime minister on accountability Irfan Qadir maintained that the decision to uphold the entire amendment act barring one, including the appeal, was “by and large” correct, but the verdict about denial of right to retrospective appeal by the eight judges was “incorrect”.
However, regarding Nawaz’s disqualification, Qadir said the election act had ended the former premier’s disqualification for life.
When parliament passes a law, there is no need to approach a court for its ratification, he said, adding that in this case, the PML-N supremo did not require to approach any court.
Mian Nawaz Sharif after the passage of election act amendment is eligible [to contest polls], the former SAPM noted.
Justice (retd) Wajihuddin Ahmed said that after the decision of the apex court that had struck down Section 5 (2) of Act, time-barred cases would now be a past and closed transaction.
Regarding elections act amendments that had limited the lifetime disqualification to five years under 62(1)(f), Ahmed said it will have to be reviewed by the court.
Parliament has the right to pass any law with retrospective impact, but courts still have the power to review it, he maintained.
Senior lawyer Abdullah Malik observed that rather than taking the matter directly to the court, Nawaz could submit his application before a returning officer.
The lawyer said if PML-N supremo’s papers were rejected on the ground of lifetime qualification during the election process by the returning office, the latter could approach the relevant court stating that his ineligibility had ended under the election act amendment. He, however, said that Practice and Procedure Act would not benefit Nawaz in anyway.
Justice (retd) Shaiq Usmani stated that the PML-N supreme leader could file a review against this decision under Article 25 within 30 days.
Regarding election act amendments under which a parliamentarian’s disqualification period was reduced to five years, he said it will not apply retrospectively, and that Nawaz would not be affected.
The election (amendment) act under section 232 qualification and disqualification subsection (2) state, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other provisions of this Act, any other law for the time being in force and judgment, order or decree of any court, including the Supreme Court and a High Court, the disqualification of a person to be elected, chosen or to remain as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or a Provincial Assembly under paragraph (f) of clause (1) of Article 62 of the Constitution shall be for a period not exceeding five years from the declaration by the court of law in that regard and such declaration shall be subject to the due process of law.”