Feb 25, 2009

SC upholds LHC verdict

The Supreme Court on Wednesday disqualified the Sharif brothers from contesting elections for any public office, upholding the earlier decision of the Lahore High Court besides quashing the notification of the Election Commission declaring Mian Shahbaz Sharif as an elected member of the Punjab Assembly and by dint of that his election as the chief minister.A three-member bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justice Muhammad Moosa K Leghari, Justice Syed Sakhi Hussain Bukhari and Justice Sheikh Hakim Ali, was hearing a set of pleas pertaining to electoral eligibility of the Sharifs and an application seeking the formation of a larger bench consisting of deposed judges of the apex court.“All the petitions stand dismissed except an appeal filed by Syed Khurram Shah,” Justice Moosa K Leghari, who was heading the bench, said in a short verbal order that sparked widespread protests across the country by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.Soon after the court verdict, Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for the Sharif brothers, alleged that his clients were declared ineligible on the orders of President Asif Ali Zardari. However, he said that judges would be made accountable on the Day of Judgment. “It’s up to the nation to decide now whether the decision was taken on merit,” he told reporters outside the court.On June 23, 2008, a full bench of the Lahore High Court disqualified PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif from contesting election. However, the court had conditionally allowed PML-N President Mian Shahbaz Sharif to hold office of the chief executive of the province.Similarly, on June 26, 2008, the Supreme Court had stayed the by-election in NA-123 Lahore till its (SC) final decision on the government’s petitions against the LHC order.The court had also restrained the election tribunal from adjudicating the plea seeking disqualification of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, till the case, pending before the apex court, was decided.Syed Khurram Shah, a rival candidate of PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking disqualification of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif. He had contended that Shahbaz Sharif was a defaulter of various financial institutions and had also allegedly committed contempt of court by storming the Supreme Court in 1998.In his appeal, CPLA 905, Syed Khurram Shah had prayed to the court to nullify the June 3, 2008 notification of the Election Commission, declaring Mian Shahbaz Sharif as the winning candidate on PP-48, Bhakkar.After the short verdict of the Supreme Court, Mian Shahbaz Sharif has lost his seat in the Provincial Assembly from PP-48 Bhakkar. Now he, no longer been member of the Punjab Assembly, is no more the chief minister Punjab after the apex court annulled the earlier notification about his election as chief minister.The Federation had filed appeals in the apex court against the disqualification of PML-N chief Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and had challenged the June 24 Lahore High Court (LHC) order to set up an election tribunal to decide the eligibility of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif.These appeals were filed under the Article 185(3) of the Constitution making Mian Shahbaz Sharif, the Returning Officer PP-48, Bhakkar-II, the Election Appellate Tribunal for PP-48, Bhakkar-II, Lahore High Court, Chief Election Commissioner of Pakistan and Syed Khurram Shah as respondents.It had prayed to the apex court to restrain the chief election commissioner from referring the matter of eligibility of Mian Shahbaz Sharif to the election tribunal till the final disposal of the government appeal.Earlier, appearing before the court Attorney General Sardar Muhammad Latif Khosa submitted that the proposer and the seconder of PML-N chief Mian Nawaz Sharif could become parties to the case if the court permits them.Referring to the jurisdiction of the judges of the apex court to hear the eligibility case of the Sharif brothers, he contended that it was the discretion of a judge to withdraw from the bench and no one could direct him to pull out.The pro-Nawaz lawyers had filed an application in the apex court, requesting for the constitution of an appropriate bench, consisting of those judges who did not take oath under the Provisional Constitution Order (PCO), promulgated by former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.The attorney general further submitted that the Punjab chief secretary and the speaker were not party to the case. The AG said all the judges had taken oaths under the Constitution and talking about the oath of the interim Constitution was irrelevant.Muhammad Akram Sheikh, counsel for the Sharif brothers, however, objected to the arguments of the AG, saying it were in conflict with Article 100 of the Constitution. He further contended that being the principal officer of the Federation, the learned AG had taken a position totally contrary to the Federation.At this, Justice Moosa K Leghari asked the learned counsel that he was not supposed to say about the role of the AG. Later, the Supreme Court office faxed the order to media offices, which is reproduced below:ORDER. Arguments concluded. “For the reasons to be recorded later on, the judgments/orders dated 23.6.2008, passed by the Lahore High Court, Lahore in writ petition No 6468/2008 and writ petition No 6469/2008 are upheld. No ground for leave is made out. These petitions are accordingly dismissed along with CMAs No 1914/2008, 408/2009, 586/2009, 409.2009, 472/2009 and 473/2009. CMA No 63/2009 in CP No.NIL/2008 and CMA No 64/2009 is CP No NIL/2008.The above titled CMAs are dismissed with cost. Each of the applicants namely, Mehr Zafar Iqbal and Shakeel Baig, are saddled with a cost of Rs 100,000 (Rs one lac) each, to be deposited in the court within 15 days. In case of failure, each of the applicants shall undergo simple imprisonment for three months.Following is the order of the court in case of Civil Petition No878 of 2008 CMA 95 OF 2009. (On appeal) from the judgement/order dated 23.6.2008 of the Lahore High Court, Lahore, passed in W P No. 6470/2008) Federation of Pakistan through Secretary Cabinet Division, Islamabad Versus Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and others. “ORDER, Arrangement concluded. For the detailed reasons to be recorded separately, the under mentioned civil petitions are held to be not maintainable and accordingly dismissed. Leave is refused.(i) CPLA No. 657-L/2008(ii) CPLA No. 803/2008(iii)CPLA No. 878/2008CPLA No905/2008 (Syed Khurram Shah Vs Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and other is converted into appeal and allowed.Resultantly, respondent No. 1 Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is declared not qualified to be elected or chosen as a Member of an Assembly. The order dated 16-5-2008 to the Returning Officer PP-48 Bhakkar-II (respondent No2) accepting the nomination papers of Mian Shahbaz Sharif and the judgement dated 23.6.2008 of the Lahore High Court, Lahore passed in W P No6570/2008 are set aside.“In consequence thereof, the notification issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan dated 3.6.2008 thereby publishing the name of Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and notifying him as returned candidate is declared to be null and void. Consequently, respondent No 1 (Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif) ceases to be Member of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab from the said constituency. Election Commission is directed to issue a notification thereby de-notifying Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif.The CMAs No. 471-L/2008,95/2009 are also dismissed.” By Sohail Khan

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