Thursday, March 30, 2023

Supreme Court rejects appeal against Ishaq Dar for non-prosecution

The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a non-prosecution petition filed against PML-N senator-elect Muhammad Ishaq Dar, lifting a stay imposed on the Election Commission of Pakistan on May 9, 2018. (ECP).

A three-judge SC bench led by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed dismissed the appeal after petitioner Muhammad Nawazish Ali Pirzada missed his second hearing.

The petitioner had appealed a Lahore High Court ruling permitting Mr. Dar to run for Senate on March 12, 2018. On December 11, 2017, an accountability court proclaimed the former finance minister an absconder in a corruption reference after he failed to join the trial against him.

Salman Aslam Butt, who represented Ishaq Dar, told because the Supreme Court had vacated the stay, today, December 21, was the first day to consider his client as the notified person.
Appointing Mr. Dar as a senator had been suspended by the apex court, which had prohibited Mr. Dar from taking the oath. This means that the Election (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, which requires lawmakers to swear in within two months of their first legislative session, will be counted from December 21, Salman Butt added.

Clause 72A was added to Section 72 of the law because of the ordinance. It says that a returned candidate’s seat becomes vacant 60 days after the first session of the National Assembly, the Senate, a provincial assembly, or a local government, or 40 days after the ordinance was passed.

When asked if his client would have to return to the nation to take the oath as a senator, Ishaq Dar answered he was sick but could come. Mr. Butt proposed that the ECP might nominate any authority like the Pakistani high commissioner in the UK or any other such office to administer the oath.

According to Article 255, if an oath is necessary to be taken before a specific person but for any reason, it cannot be taken before that person, it may be taken before another person.

Article 65, on the other hand, specifies that a member of a House may neither sit nor vote until he has taken the oath prescribed in the Third Schedule.

Salman Butt proposed a virtual oath, as used in countries like New Zealand, Canada, and Australia where virtual parliaments are used.

He added that the Supreme Court and the Islamabad High Court have been holding hearings via video link, which might be used in the present instance for administering oaths.

However, Additional Attorney General Chaudhry Aamir Rehman clarified that since the ECP had lifted the stay, the recently enacted rule requiring lawmakers to take the oath within 60 days would apply.

In addition to challenging the ordinance, the PML-N argued before the high court that Ishaq Dar could not return to Pakistan because his notification by the ECP had been suspended by the Supreme Court.

The IHC rejected the PML-objection N’s to the presidential edict requiring parliamentarians to swear within 60 days of their first session.

The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Foreign and Interior Secretaries, as well as the National Accountability Bureau’s prosecutor general, to advise the court on strategies to bring back former finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The apex court had also threatened proceeding to ex parte against the former minister if he refused to attend, with Ishaq Dar bearing the consequences.

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