Can Imran Khan be disqualified ?

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Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan

Country’s Political atmosphere is once again tense. Imran Khan’s political foes are envisaging strategy to knock him out for making declaration against the truth. The rules of this game were designed favoring Imran, not knowing that he would himself land here one day. The sword of 62(1)(f) is in the air waiting to fall down. PTI has been issued show cause notice on the prohibited funding case. The Election Commission of Pakistan has framed serious charges against the party’s head. It has held in its ruling that the incoming funds from foreign sources were willfully and knowingly concealed and so were 13 of the bank accounts of the party. For many, it is substantial enough to lend the party head in hot waters.

The case however is old though it has been set in motion to add to the stress levels of PTI leadership that has been on a tirade against government. The PDM doesn’t want to let go Imran scot-free this time. They have been waiting for the right moment to scold him up for being rude. He has been termed as a ‘blue eye’ baby for the establishment given the level of trust and support he has enjoyed in the past whose vestiges can be seen even today. Rivals believe that the scales of justice turn their standard when Imran’s actions are weighed. Will it be the case again?

The matter is not only about receipt of prohibited funds but it is also about certifying the misrepresented financial facts. Had it been only about prohibited funds, the law would act by confiscation of such amount of funds. The charge is far beyond that. Imran Khan has certified a wrong financial statement with his signature that means the liability incurs on him for the outcome.

‘’The ball is once again in the Supreme Court–the criticism following Supreme Court’s decision on CM Punjab’s election is not over yet and the Court is again set to get entangled in an other controversial matter of its like’’– KGK.

Since then several questions have been raised on Judge’s reluctant to constitute a full court for constitutional cases having far reaching consequences. The conduct of Supreme Court speaks for itself.

On the other hand, the government has it’s own agenda; It is bent on establishing a case for foreign funding so that it can get a declaration of dissolution for PTI. To this end, the applicable law on the issue that is (PPO 2002) states under Sec.15, that where the federal government is satisfied that a political party is a foreign-aided and works against the sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan, it shall make a declaration by a notification subject to Supreme Court’s final decision on a reference within 15 days.

However, the power of the federal government to make a declaration of dissolution has been narrowed down by the Supreme Court in Hanif Abbasi Vs. Imran Khan the court held that sec.15 of PPO must be read with Art.17 of the Constitution as it cannot be taken in isolation. The court went on to make a clear distinction between a foreign-aided party and a party receiving prohibited funding.

After this development, the case for the government to establish the element of PTI being foreign aided/foreign backed has become difficult to float in the judicial realm. Even if one assumes that the government is successful in making a declaration of dissolution. What will it achieve? Well. As a result of dissolution, a political party loses its seats and its members become disqualified for the remaining period and for four years from the dissolution date to contest any further election. (Save those members who openly disassociate with the party before the final decision by the Supreme Court). It is expected that the government reference seeking dissolution will receive a big ‘NO’ from the Supreme Court owing to the standard already set in an aforementioned case law.

The most intricate aspect of the ECP’s decision is about Imran Khan’s declaration via certificate. It has a great potential to be a new bone of contention. The so-called ‘sadiq-o-ameen’ standards set by the Supreme Court is unmatchable. A very high moral standard has been erected as a barrier that no politician would want to be tested with.

–The settled case law points to the fact that courts have adopted a very flexible interpretation of article 62 so as to include trivial shortcomings as potent enough to land a parliamentarian morally unfit for the job. The same unbridled discretion of the Court made it fix a life time period for disqualification for cases under article 62&63 without any legal backing. No Parliament has thought to stop such constitutional overlap! The nature of the offence for 62(1)(f) is a moral shortcoming, that by its nature is not decisive to hold a person liable all his life. The thought behind such incorporation is Islamic moral doctrine. Islam however, believes in rehabilitation and abstinence from sins. As far as one forsakes the habit of sinning (i. e dishonesty, untruthfulness, deceit etc.) one can be restored back to his position. How can a lifetime disqualification stand on this test–?

The similar approach taken by the Supreme Court in the Panama Case is also an interpretative overreach. The former prime minister was disqualified for not drawing salary and hence not declaring it in his papers. The present matter concerns million of dollars from foreign sources that has an untraceable record as where was such huge funds spent. What were those meant for? And many more questions will be raised indeed. PTI lawyers claim that a certificate signed by Imran khan is by its nature different from an affidavit. Therefore, it requires no further scrutiny for the purposes of art.62. Well. The contention is not whether it was an affidavit or a certificate but a mis-declaration, a false representation of fact, a concealment of asset, account. Can a Sadiq and Ameen, as explained by the Supreme Court would do that. Clearly NO. The barrier is tall enough to climb!

What If the party funds are used for unlawful activities, will the party head still have the grounds to get absolved from his responsibility? In legal matters, whenever you sign, give a statement, the value and responsibility comes with that. The reasonable standard expected of a party head is he ought to be aware of the financial inflows and outflows and of course the sources of funds origin and disposal. The arguments furthered by PTI lawyers have no merits to float before the high standards of scrutiny set up by the Supreme Court for art.62. It is however yet to be seen whether the ‘Sword of Damocles’ would fall over Imran or he will be once again rescued by the so called ‘’broadest interpretation of the constitution?

The history has it that only the favorites survive in Pakistani Politics.

The writer is a lawyer and a political analyst, he tweets as Khan_KGK

******   The view points of author are his personal and not necessary The NewsLark to be agreed with them.     *******

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