CEC defends de-notification of lawmakers
ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim has defended ECP’s decision to de-notify 11 lawmakers disqualified recently by the Supreme Court for holding dual nationality, saying the commission was discharging its duties in line with the powers given to it by the Constitution.
In a rejoinder to a letter received from Attorney General Irfan Qadir on Monday, the CEC said that being a retired judge of the Supreme Court he was well aware of the relevant provisions of the Constitution.
The rejoinder, a copy of which is available with Dawn, was dispatched to the attorney general on Tuesday.
In an unusual communication, the attorney general had asked the CEC to proceed in the matter in accordance with the relevant provision of the 1973 Constitution while determining whether the Supreme Court was mandated by the Constitution to issue directions to the election commission.
“In my view, the Election Commission of Pakistan has the exclusive obligation to determine the questions of disqualification as per the relevant constitutional provisions and as such the ECP is not to perform its functions on the directions of any court in Pakistan including the Supreme Court.”
The attorney general also asked the CEC to take steps in terms of Article 5 of the Constitution read with his oath of office for protecting and preserving the Constitution.
According to Article 5, loyalty to state is the basic duty of every citizen and obedience to the Constitution and law is the inviolable obligation of every citizen wherever he may be and of every other person for the time being within Pakistan.
The CEC said in his rejoinder that the commission was aware of its obligations under Article 5, sources told Dawn.
The sources said the AG’s letter was discussed at a meeting of the commission on Monday. At the outset of the meeting, the sources said, ECP member from Sindh Justice (retd) Roshan Essani referred to the attorney general’s letter and suggested that the commission should look into it, while member from Punjab Justice (retd) Riaz Kiyani was quoted as saying that the attorney general wanted to mislead the commission.
When contacted, a senior ECP official pointed out that the Supreme Court had disqualified 11 lawmakers and had asked the commission to de-notify them.
“Had the court asked us to initiate legal proceedings we would have waited for its verdict,” he remarked.
The official declined to comment when asked if the apex court was empowered under the law to directly disqualify a lawmaker.
The Supreme Court disqualified 11 lawmakers on Sept 20 after they were found to be violating Article 63 (1) (C) of the Constitution. The court observed that in view of the established fact that they had acquired the citizenship of foreign states, no question had arisen, which was to be determined by the speakers of the respective houses and thus no reference under Article 63 (2) was being made.