Can Nawaz Sharif contest the upcoming general elections? – Pakistan


With mere laws offering some hope after a lifetime disqualification, together with different convictions, legal professionals touch upon whether or not the PML-N supremo can return to the seat of energy.

While the current developments paint a seemingly hopeful image for PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, main authorized hurdles stay in his path to contest the upcoming general elections on Feb 8, 2024.

The largest one arguably is the notorious Panama Papers case, during which he was disqualified from holding any public workplace in July 2017, and subsequently, stepped down from the function of the prime minister.

He was handed a disqualification of 10 years from holding a public workplace in the Al-Azizia Steel Mills corruption reference together with seven years in jail.

The Supreme Court, in a subsequent choice, stated the disqualification beneath Article 62(1)(f), which units the precondition for a member of parliament to be “sadiq and ameen” (sincere and righteous) was for all times.

The former premier was additionally sentenced to 10 years in jail in the Avenfield Apartments reference in July 2018.

Since his return to the nation final month, the obstacles to which had been eliminated by bail in two circumstances, Nawaz has been capable of safe the desired outcomes from the courts.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has restored the PML-N supremo’s appeals in opposition to his convictions in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia references, and is about to listen to them as we speak (Nov 21).

In the Toshakhana case, an accountability courtroom has revoked Nawaz’s perpetual arrest warrants, granted him bail and ordered the unfreezing of Nawaz’s properties. The courtroom will resume listening to the case on Nov 20 (Monday). has reached out to legal professionals to hunt their views on whether or not the deposed former premier can contest the upcoming polls based mostly on the present standing of the costs he’s going through.

Panama case disqualification

Lawyer and columnist Abdul Moiz Jaferii termed the lifetime disqualification in the Panama case as the “most important hindrance”.

While the Constitution is silent on the interval of disqualification beneath Article 62(1)(f) ({qualifications} for membership of Parliament), the Supreme Court had dominated in 2018 that disqualification beneath the similar is for life.

However, amendments were made to the Elections Act 2017 earlier this year, making the disqualification “for a period not exceeding five years” from the court declaration.

Expanding upon the conundrum, Jaferii noted that the Elections Act amendment that “purports to create a limit upon the disqualification for moral turpitude-related offences falls foul of the constitutional interpretation” of Article 62 (1)(f) as given by the SC’s larger bench.

“Hence, even if his [nomination] papers are accepted, this will be a strong challenge where the relevant subordinate courts will have to uphold the Supreme Court judgment,” the lawyer stated.

Stating his view, lawyer Muhammad Ahmad Pansota said Nawaz cannot contest the elections “at this point” and described how the legal conflict is likely to unfold in the coming weeks.

“I think it all boils down to when Mr Nawaz Sharif will file his nomination papers,” he said, adding that the papers would be challenged by someone. The subsequent decision by the returning officer would then go before an election tribunal and then before the Lahore High Court, Pansota said.

The matter would then land in the apex court, “where it will be settled and the Supreme Court will decide the conflict between the law — an ordinary legislation — and a judgment of the Supreme Court”, Pansota forecast.

“I personally believe that legislation should prevail, but then there is a judgment of the Supreme Court,” he noted.

The lawyer pointed out that the apex court’s judgment interpreting the Constitution “cannot be overruled by an act of the Parliament” unless by a constitutional amendment.

Meanwhile, Barrister Rida Hosain termed the SC’s 2018 verdict of lifetime disqualification a “flawed and moralistic judgment”.

“Essentially, the logic was that once the court had given such a damning declaration, it was to be permanent,” she told Commenting on the tweaks to the election law, she said it, “by design, attempts to undo the lifetime disqualification judgment”.

Echoing Pansota’s views, Hosain also highlighted that if a time limit was to be added to the Constitution’s Article 62(1)(f), it ought to be done through a constitutional amendment.

“There is a possibility that this amendment is challenged on the basis that the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution cannot be undone through ordinary legislation. […] On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif could argue that since the Constitution is silent, a time period could be introduced through the law,” she stated.

Emphasising the importance of the SC verdict, lawyer Usama Khawar said: “Nawaz Sharif can not contest general elections unless the Supreme Court verdict interpreting Article 62 and Article 63 is overturned by a larger bench.

“The constitutional viewpoint is that ordinary legislation like [an] Election Act amendment cannot override the Constitution,” the law instructor said.

However, at the same time, Khawar stated that the apex court’s judgment “does not automatically bar Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections unless a court of law first declares” the changes to the Elections Act contrary to the 2018 verdict and strikes them down.

Lawyer Ayman Zafar also was of the view that the election law amendments were of no benefit to the PML-N supremo for two reasons — their application was not retrospective and they lacked the authority to overturn SC’s ruling of disqualification for life.

“The promising legislation awaits interpretation by the superior courts, and it is contingent upon the court’s review and potential nullification,” she added.

Zafar said till the decision of the SC of lifetime disqualification is not reconsidered, “Nawaz will remain ineligible to hold public office till the courts’ respective declarations are upheld against them”.

Article 63(1)(h) that bars a person convicted of a felony offence from being elected as a member of the Parliament for 5 years after launch.

Therefore, she asserted, “Nawaz Sharif’s convictions in the Avenfield and Al-Azizia circumstances maintain the discipline. If the elections had been held as we speak, Nawaz Sharif wouldn’t be capable of participate. Unless his convictions are both put aside or suspended by a courtroom, he can not contest elections.”

Referring to the Punjab interim authorities suspending the former premier’s sentence in the Al-Azizia reference, Hosain cited an SC judgment (2019 SCMR 382) whereby it had dominated that suspension of sentence is just not sufficient to beat the disqualification however slightly, it’s the conviction which should be expressly suspended or put aside.

The barrister said that the destiny of the PML-N supremo’s appeals in the IHC will decide whether or not the disqualification beneath Article 63(1)(h) nonetheless engages for the upcoming elections. “Put merely, if the convictions don’t stand in attraction, the disqualification beneath this Article will stop.”

Pansota and Khawar additionally highlighted that Nawaz’s sentence in the Al-Azizia case was suspended however the conviction was not put aside but.

“So, on these grounds, I don’t suppose he (Nawaz) can contest elections,” Pansota advised

Khawar identified that 4 circumstances may probably bar the former premier from contesting elections — the Avenfield and Al-Azizia convictions that he termed “instant authorized challenges”, the Panama Papers disqualification, and the Toshakhana case.

He additional stated that as per a judgment of the apex courtroom, individuals disqualified beneath Articles 62 and 63 are barred from turning into the head of a political celebration.

Referring to the appeals in the Al-Azizia and Avenfield circumstances, Zafar said: “The end result of those appeals holds vital implications for the political panorama of Pakistan, as the former PM seeks to safe a reversal of the authorized selections that at the moment constrain his political aspirations.”

She added that the Avenfield case could increase sure considerations for Nawaz, along with already current convictions.

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