PML-N’s counsel recalls in SC freedom of party members to choose leader

PML-N’s counsel recalls in SC freedom of party members to choose leader
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ISLAMABAD: During Wednesday’s hearing of several petitions against the Elections Act 2017, in Supreme Court (SC), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) counsel Salman Akram Raja contended that articles 19 and 17 of the Constitution give the freedom to party members to elect their leaders.
The hearing resumed in front of a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.
During the hearing, the chief justice inquired as to who allotted the Senate tickets and summoned the nomination papers for the Senate elections from the Election Commission of Pakistan and questioned how a person considered unfit to be a member of Parliament could head a parliamentary party.
Moreover, the bench instructed the attorney general to submit the record of the parliamentary debate during the passage of the 14th amendment and inform the court as to who was in power at the time.
The hearing was adjourned until February 15 when the PML-N counsel is expected to conclude his arguments.
Earlier, Mian Saqib Nisar on February 9, stated that the Supreme Court was not limiting its review of the Elections Act 2017 to deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif alone, and would take a holistic view of the legislation to ascertain its implications.
Taking the floor, Advocate Bhutta echoed arguments presented by Awami Muslim League (AML) Chairman Sheikh Rasheed’s lawyer Barrister Farogh Naseem and Pakistan People’s Party’s counsel, Latif Khosa, in previous hearings.
He said that there was no way a person disqualified by the apex court could become a political party chief. To this, the CJP reminded him that the new law passed by parliament could allow any convicted person to assume the position of political party head.
On February 6, Naseem had made a similar argument that the Elections Act 2017 was passed only 17 days after Nawaz’s disqualification, which indicated its mala fide intent. When the CJP asked how the appointment of a disqualified person as party chief contradicts the Constitution, he had said that according to Article 63-A of the Constitution, important powers were vested in the office of party chief, including the disqualification of a legislator belonging to their party.
Khosa, in his arguments on February 7, had raised similar questions over the timing of the passage of the Elections Act 2017, terming it “suspicious”. He said that the Act negated Article 62 (1)(f) of the Constitution and the court had the authority to protect it.

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