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SC sets guidelines for challenges to MPs' qualification.

ISLAMABAD -- The Supreme Court holds that 'quo warranto' remedy should not be permitted to be resorted to for demeaning, intimidating and causing undue harassment to parliamentarians.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, in his 81-page verdict in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Jehangir Tareen's disqualification case observed that the superior court should carefully exercise the 'quo warranto' jurisdiction for disqualification of elected parliamentarians.

'Quo warranto' is a Latin phrase which means 'by what warrant?' In legal terms it means a writ formerly requiring a person to show by what authority he exercises a public office, franchise, or liberty.

The superior courts in Pakistan, while exercising the jurisdiction of 'quo warranto', can directly examine the qualification of any parliamentarian. Likewise, the petitioner approaches the court under same jurisdiction.

After the Panamagate case verdict, there was a fear among parliamentarians regarding the exercise of 'quo warranto' jurisdiction by the courts. However, the apex court in its latest judgment sets certain guidelines for the judiciary.

The Chief Justice observed that 'quo-warranto' remedy should not be allowed to be a tool in the hands of the relators, who approach the court with mala fide intentions and either have their own personal grudges and scores to settle with the holder of the public office or are a proxy for someone else who has a similar object or motive.

'This remedy surely cannot be allowed to serve as a sword hanging over the heads of the Parliamentarians (members of the Provincial Assemblies) who are the chosen representatives of the people under the mandate of the Constitution (Article 2A) wherein the State shall exercise its power and authority through the chosen representatives of the people.

'Thus the Parliament is the supreme law making organ of the State; it is the supreme body to lay down the State policies. And the executive body of the State is also derived from this organ. Although the validity of legislative enactments of the Parliament, and the executive actions of the Administration (Note: which has genesis in the Parliament) are subject to the power of judicial review of the superior courts, this power should be exercised within the limits provided by the Constitution, as interpreted by the courts and the various principles of law enunciated in this behalf. Yet the sanctity of the Parliament and the Parliamentarian should not be allowed to be impinged or compromised lightly.'

According to the judgment, the 'quo warranto' jurisdiction should not be allowed to be used as a pressure tactic to restrain the public office-holders from performing their functions and discharging their duties in accordance with the Constitution and the law.

'This remedy of quo-warranto cannot be equated with the challenge to the holder of any other public office, which public office is statutory in nature or of an autonomous body; where the appointment is assailed as not having been made according to the law (regarding his qualifications etc.) or on account of the fact that the appointing authority lacked the authority to make such an appointment or the appointment is tainted with sheer mala fides, on the basis of political considerations, nepotism etc. and/or in utter absence and misuse of authority.

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Publication:Regional Times (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Dec 17, 2017
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