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Chief Justice asks litigants to satisfy how Election Act violates constitution

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday questioned the maintainability of as many as 13 petitions challenging the Election Act 2017, which paved the way for ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif to emerge as the president of his party despite lifelong disqualification in the Panama Papers case.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, who headed a three-judge bench of the apex court, initially turned down the petitioners’ request to issue notices to official respondents, and asked them to satisfy the judges with regard to the maintainability of their petitions.

Other members of the bench were Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Ijazul Ahsan.

CJP Nisar observed the court cannot encroach upon the jurisdiction of the parliament. The laws enacted by it are to be implemented, he added.

After hearing initial arguments, the bench issued notices to the respondents, including Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Nawaz Sharif, to submit their response.

The hearing was adjourned till Jan 23.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Sheikh Rashid Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League, Jamshed Dasti and some other political parties have challenged the controversial clause of the Act.

The apex court’s registrar office had earlier rejected the constitutional petitions, observing that the petitioners didn’t approach an appropriate forum to have their grievance redressed and didn’t also provide justification for doing so.

Subsequently, the petitioners filed appeals challenging the objections.

After hearing arguments of petitioners’ lawyers in his chamber, the CJP set aside the objections of the  registrar office and asked it to fix them for hearing before any bench.

In his petition, the PTI chief has requested the court to set aside the controversial clause of the Election Act, which enabled the former premier to hold party office.

The AML chief and other petitioners argued that the Election Act 2017, a clause of which allows a disqualified lawmaker to hold the office of a political party, is against constitutional provisions. Under the law, a disqualified person has been given powers to get the law of his choice enacted by the legislators associated with his/her party, they added.

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