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Article 63-A: SC judge questions if disloyalty to party is dishonesty

PPP counsel remarked disloyalty was a strong word, not mentioned in Article 63-A

Supreme Court Justice Ijazul Ahsan On Wednesday asked whether disloyalty to a political party could be considered as dishonesty and could lead to disqualification.

He raised the questions during the hearing of a presidential reference seeking the SC’s explanation of Article 63-A of the constitution.

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A five-member bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial and consisting of Justice Ahsan, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, heard the reference.

“Is disloyalty not dishonesty?” Justice Ahsan asked Pakistan People’s Party counsel Farook H. Naek who presented his arguments today. He further questioned if a lawmaker could be disqualified over “dishonesty”.

Naek said that “disloyalty” was a strong word, elaborating that it was not mentioned in the Article.

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The PPP counsel recalled that Article 58-2(b) was abrogated in 1997 through the 13th Amendment. However, it was reinstated by military dictator Pervez Musharraf in 2002. The 18th Amendment of the Constitution once again removed the article in 2018, he said.

Naek added that Article 63-A was included in the Constitution via the 14th Amendment.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) did have not have the power to discard the party head’s decision before a presidential order amending Article 63-A in 2002. The 18th Amendment further stripped the powers of party heads and gave them to the parliamentary leaders of the parties.

Justice Ahsan highlighted that Article 62(1)(f) did not give the length of disqualification but the apex court had given its interpretation.

Naek responded that lawmakers had not determined the length of disqualification for defecting lawmakers under Article 63-A.

Afterwards, the hearing was adjourned till tomorrow.

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