IHC wants parliament to hold the elected accountable

Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah stated on Thursday that any error in an elected representative’s disqualification judgment results in irreparable harm, and added that the parliament can create its own mechanism for holding public representatives accountable.

The IHC CJ’s remarks came as the court released the detailed judgment over dismissal of pleas seeking disqualification of former president and PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari, and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry. “As a judge, I do not claim superiority over the elected representatives,” the chief justice stated in his verdict. He furthered that the “high standard” of Sadiq and Amin did not exist for any office holder other than elected representatives. Justice Minallah added that this standard did not exist even for “unelected” individuals who have ruled the country for half of Pakistan’s life.

The court stated that the effects of disqualification under Article 62 (1)(f) were “profound” and that the parliament could create its own mechanism for self-accountability of representatives. The judgment stated that neither of the two politicians had been convicted by any court of law, and that their disqualification was sought on disputed facts. CJ Minallah declared that disqualifying an elected representative on disputed grounds requires investigation, adding that political opponents of both representatives would try benefitting from each other’s investigations during the process.

Also, IHC on Thursday issued a detailed decision to reject a petition filed for the disqualification of former prime minister Imran Khan. A division bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice Athar Minallah and Justice Mian Gul Hasan Aurangzeb had reserved the verdict. A citizen, Hafiz Ehtesham, had approached the high court for the disqualification of Imran Khan in the Tyrian White case. On January 21, 2019, the court rejected Imran Khan’s disqualification petition. The court in its detailed decision stated that the disqualification was sought on the charge related to Imran Khan’s private life. In this case, the issue of fundamental rights of a girl child was also connected and there was a fear that the rights of the girl child would be affected by using the authority of the court in this case, it added. The order further stated that Imran Khan was elected from five constituencies in 2018 elections.

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