The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday rejected a petition filed by PTI leader Faisal Vawda seeking a stay on hearings in a disqualification case against him at the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) over his failure to disclose his dual nationality while contesting the 2018 general elections.
Vawda had challenged the October 12 decision of the ECP — which had rejected his petition to stay the hearings — on the grounds that the case against him had become invalid as the ECP was bound to decide the matter within 60 days after he was elected and that it had not done so.
IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah, who heard the case today, observed that an application had been filed against Vawda within 60 days and called upon the senator to prove his innocence and let the ECP take action in accordance with the law if he was in the clear.
“What are you afraid of? Let the election commission decide the case,” Justice Minallah said.
Your application is non-maintainable; it is hence rejected, he said.
According to the IHC’s written order following today’s hearing, the ECP has been directed to announce a decision in the disqualification case against Vawda within 60 days.
“ECP is taking action to scrutinise Vawda’s oath as per the Supreme Court’s orders,” said the order, adding that ECP is responsible to ascertain whether the oath was factual or fake.
It stated that Vawda would have to face the consequences in case the oath he had submitted is found false.
The oath was made part of Vawda’s nomination papers as per the apex court’s orders, the order said.
“One may receive the same punishment for submitting a false oath in the ECP as that for submitting a false oath in the SC,” it noted.
The verdict further stated that submitting a false oath doesn’t only involve the violation of Article 62 and 63 — it has consequences far more serious than that.
What is the case?
Vawda had won the 2018 general election from Karachi’s NA-249 constituency.
In January this year, an investigative report published in The News had revealed that Vawda may have committed perjury by falsely declaring in an oath to the ECP that he did not hold any foreign nationality.
According to The News, Vawda was in possession of a United States passport at the time he filed his nomination papers on June 11, 2018. The minister remained an American national even at the time the scrutiny of his nomination papers were completed.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan in a past judgment has categorically ruled that candidates who hold dual nationality are supposed to submit a renunciation certificate of the foreign nationality along with their nomination papers.
The same judgment has previously led to the disqualification of various lawmakers, notable among whom Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senators Saadia Abbasi and Haroon Akhtar.