IHC seeks opinions of Chairman Senate,Speaker NA on lawmakers eligibility cases

ISLAMABAD:The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday sought arguments on maintainability of a petition challenging the eligibility of former president Asif Ali Zardari and Federal Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain.

The court also summoned attorney general of Pakistan on next hearing for assistance and also sought opinion of Speaker National Assembly and Chairman Senate regarding such matters.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah, hearing the cases, directed petitioner PTI’s leader Khurram Sher Zaman’s lawyer to give references of top courts’ judgement and satisfy the court regarding maintainability of the case. Why the court should interfere in such matter, the bench asked.

The petitioner’s lawyer on the occasion submitted documents in support of his case against Zardari. The court remarked that it had previously disqualified a former foreign minister and his constituency remained vacant for representation for long time.

The chief justice remarked that there were several Parliamentary committees including Public Accounts Committee (PAC) which could view such matters.

The petitioner’s lawyer said that the court had served notices to the respondents in this case and sought comments.

He said that only a voter of relevant constituency could challenge the eligibility of a public representative under the ECP Act.

The lawyer said that election tribunal could disqualify any representative in pre election on violation of law who could file appeal before the appellant tribunal in given time. However, in post elections, any candidate could move to Supreme Court if declared disqualified, he said.

The chief justice remarked that this court had raised the question that why it should interfere in such matters when the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) itself could see this.

The chief justice said that elected members were stakeholders of parliamentary system. Such matters could damage public’s trust on judiciary, he observed.

The lawyer said that the court had served notices to respondents on April 4, 2019 but no comments were received yet. The court asked the lawyer to first satisfy the bench regarding the case maintainability.

The chief justice said that it was the responsibility of the Parliament to stop involvements of courts in such matters.

The lawyer said that the top court had decided Khawaja Asif case on merit but it did not declared the case as beyond court’s jurisdiction.

The court said that it would sought opinion from speaker National Assembly and Chairman Senate and adjourned the cases till April 6.

It may be mentioned here that Raja Khuram Zaman had moved case against Asif Ali Zardari while TV anchor Sami Ibrahim had challenged the eligibility of Chaudhry Fawad Hussain.