On Monday, the Supreme Court made a big decision, voting 6-1 to put an end to the lifetime ban on lawmakers under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution. They ruled that this law could now bar politicians from holding office for just five years.
Last Friday, a group of seven judges, led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa and including Justices Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Yahya Afridi, Aminuddin Khan, Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Muhammad Ali Mazhar, and Musarrat Hilali, wrapped up their discussions and reserved the verdict in the case.
With elections around the corner, the Supreme Court aimed to settle the ongoing debate on whether folks disqualified under Article 62(1)(f) could still run for office, taking into account changes made in the Elections Act 2017. This part of the law is what led to the disqualification of big names like former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party Chairman Jahangir Tareen.
Supreme Court’s Legal Twist: Shift from ‘Permanent’ Disqualification to 5-Year Bar
The legal tangle originated from a 2018 Supreme Court judgment in the Samiullah Baloch case, stating that they considered disqualification under Article 62(1)(f) to be a “permanent” matter. This verdict came from former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, ex-CJP Umar Ata Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah.
But in June 2023, the Elections Act 2017 amendment specified a five-year period for electoral disqualification, not a whole lifetime. The top court encountered confusion last month in an electoral disqualification case involving Sardar Mir Badshah Khan Qaisarani, who faced disqualification for presenting a fake degree. His appeal is still pending before the Lahore High Court.