The apex court has asked a Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker’s counsel whether his client would be ready to contest the by-elections if his disqualification order was withdrawn.
A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, said that it would also lay down a law over the quality of evidence needed to set aside an election.
The bench questioned whether a parliamentarian could be disqualified forever on the basis of holding a forged degree. The bench is hearing Siddique Baloch’s plea against the tribunal’s judgment. He was disqualified for corrupt and illegal practice and holding a fake degree.
Baloch, who contested elections as an independent candidate but joined the PML-N after the victory, was debarred from contesting elections in the future by an election tribunal. He had defeated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Secretary General Jahangir Tareen in the 2013 general elections.
On the query of the bench, Shahzad Shaukat, counsel for Siddique Baloch, said his client would be ready to go back to the voters but requested the bench to let him take instructions from his client. “My client was disqualified on the grounds that he could not answer any questions during the cross-examination.”
Justice Saqib questioned whether a person could be debarred permanently if he is unable to reply such queries. He also asked the counsels for both the parties to assist on this question as they would lay down a law about it.
Tareen’s counsel Makhdoom Ali Khan said: “Education is something that is to remember after you have forgotten what you have been taught.” Justice Saqib remarked that there is no concrete evidence about the forged nature of Baloch’s educational certificates.
The lawyer said that the issue is not whether Baloch is disqualified on the basis of lack of education between Jahangir Tareen and Siddiqui Baloch but it is the matter for the court to decide “whether a man like Baloch should be allowed to sit in parliament as a representative of the people.”
Addressing Justice Saqib Nisar, the PTI leader’s lawyer said that yesterday (Wednesday) the “word hurt used by my lord [Justice Saqib] has perturbed me as usual and as counsel of this court.
Makhdoom also said that he had spoken to his client who had denied having expressed an opinion, which reflected in any way towards the court, adding that Tareen’s comments were not towards the court but to him [Baloch] who has reneged on public pronouncement to contest the elections but later instead of facing the people in the election had taken refuge in the legal proceedings.
Earlier, Shahzad Shaukat while resuming his arguments said that the Nadra verified 90% votes of NA-154 but 20,600 votes could not be checked as there was no CNIC numbers on the counter-file of the ballot books.
He stated that the 20,600 votes were not from one polling station of the NA-154 but of all the polling stations of the constituency.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 23rd, 2015.