ISLAMABAD – In the much-anticipated verdict on the changing of Khatam-e-Nabuwwat clause in the Election Act 2017, the Islamabad High Court has declared the whole parliament and two federal ministers responsible for the controversial alteration.
Authored by Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, the 172-page detailed judgment said: “It is for parliament which can explain the real intent but prima facie it appears that a deliberate and motivated effort was made by the draftsmen of the bill to bring Qadianis in the loop of majority in order to diminish their separate identity as non-muslims. I observe with great concern that all the members of the National Assembly as also the Senators (without distinction of parties) failed to identify the motive, lacuna and an effort to frustrate constitutional amendment through simple enactment which is not permissible under the law,” the written order reads.
In the probe report prepared by Senator Raja Zafarul Haq on the issues also held former federal minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication Anusha Rehman and ex-federal law minister Zahid Hamid responsible to alter the election act that led to weeks-long sit-in in Islamabad following which then Pakistan Muslim league Nawaz capitulated to the demands of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) and sacked Hamid
“Hamid was also member of parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms and Convenor of its Sub Committee, during a meeting held on this issue, admitted to the fact that basically it was his primary responsibility to see that the draft does not contain anything controversial but somehow he felt that he failed to perform his duty despite his legal acumen; experience and command of language,” the order further stated.
“It has come to the court’s knowledge that the committee had to circulate with its annexure, the revision, however, the convenor of the subcommittee asked the NA officials to not circulate the said record. In view of the above-mentioned facts, it is obvious that it was a failure on such a sensitive and sacred issue, on the part of Zahid Hamid, the Convenor of the Sub Committee, member of the PCER and Federal Minister for Law and Justice,” Justice Siddiqui said in the order.
However, the court acknowledged the role of parliament and said that when the final draft was sent for approval to PCER, the members of the parliamentary parties failed to identify any alteration in the act regarding finality of the Prophethood.
Justice Siddiqui also directed the caretaker government on Wednesday to make Raja Zafarul Haq committee’ report public.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had formed a three-member committee, headed by Haq and comprising Mushahidullah Khan and Ahsan Iqbal, to probe into objectionable changes pertaining to Khatam-e-Nabuwat (finality of Prophethood) in the Election Act 2017
Elections Bill 2017
In August, following Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification by the Supreme Court, the ECP had informed the PML-N that according to the Political Parties Order 2002, a disqualified MNA cannot hold any position in the party.
According to the bill, every citizen will have the right to be a part of a political party, except those in government service, and will also have the right to form a party.
It enables the ECP to scrutinise election expenses within 90 days, failing which election expenses submitted by a political party would be deemed to be correct.
The bill states that any parliamentarian could only be disqualified for a period of five years and that ECP will be an independent and autonomous body, which will formulate its own law, and party funding details will be available online.
It also restricts the caretaker government from making any policy decisions.
Since Bill’s ratification, many opposition members have protested against it for different reasons and have announced that they would move the courts against it.