ECP has ‘no jurisdiction’ to disqualify lawmakers for life; SC issues judgment in Faisal Vawda case

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Islamabad: A major legal breakthrough, as the Supreme Court of Pakistan, in the lifetime disqualification case of Faisal Vawda, has maintained that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has no jurisdiction under the Constitution to decide upon the pre-election disqualification of a lawmaker.

In its four-page short judgment authored by the Chief Justice of Pakistan, the apex court Sunday nullified the verdicts of the ECP and the Islamabad High Court and said: “ECP has no jurisdiction […] to inquire into and decide upon the matter of pre-election disqualification and disqualification of a returned candidate.”

The case was heard by a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Umar Atta Bandial and comprising Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Ayesha Malik as its other members.

Faisal Vawda’s lifetime disqualification revoked by Supreme Court after ‘unconditional apology’

Last month, the Supreme Court of Pakistan revoked the lifetime disqualification of Faisal Vawda in a dual nationality case after he tendered an “unconditional apology” before the apex court.

Faisal Vawda, whose PTI membership has been terminated by the party, apprised the court that he received a citizenship renunciation certificate from the US authorities on June 25, 2018, the SC mentioned in the order.

It further said that Vawda admitted his mistake and apologised unconditionally to the SC. It ruled that Vawda was not eligible for contesting elections in 2018, but after tendering an unconditional apology, Article 63 (1) (C) was applied to him — and now he can contest elections for the next assembly term.

Thus, the former PTI senator would be considered disqualified till the end of the incumbent parliament’s tenure.

The Case

Faisal Vawda had challenged the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)’s verdict of February 9, in which the Commission had disqualified Vawda for concealing his dual nationality at the time of filing his election nomination papers in 2018. The ECP had also directed him to return the salary and other benefits he had received as a minister and a member of the National Assembly within two months. It had also de-notified him as a senator.

Following that, Vawda had moved the apex court on grounds that the ECP did not have the jurisdiction to disqualify him as a member of parliament.

Before revoking his lifetime disqualification, the SC had summoned Vawda to give him a chance to express his regret for misstating his dual nationality before the top court.

When appeared before the Supreme Court on November 25, Vawda tendered his “unconditional apology” and said he would accept any punishment that would be awarded to him.