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AJK SC sets aside judgement against ex-speaker

MUZAFFARABAD: The Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside a judgement of the High Court whereby the then AJK Legislative Assembly speaker Sardar Ghulam Sadiq was declared disqualified for contesting elections.

On July 18 last year, the High Court had declared that Mr Sadiq was not qualified at the time of filing his nomination papers under Section 24(2)(f) of the AJK Interim Constitution, read with Section 5(1)(f) of the AJK Assembly (Elections) Ordinance, 1970.

The decision was given after the candidature of Mr Sadiq for the general elections was contested by his electoral rival Sardar Khan Bahadur Khan of the PML-N on the grounds that he did not fulfil the definition of being sagacious, righteous, honest, ‘ameen’ and not-profligate, as specified in the AJK Assembly (Elections) Ordinance, for having received dual salaries as a member of the assembly and as an adviser to the AJK Council chairman, apart from some other irregularities as speaker.

Mr Sadiq was provided interim relief on July 20 by a division bench of the AJK Supreme Court, comprising Chief Justice Muhammad Azam Khan and Justice Raja Saeed Akram Khan, enabling him to contest elections, which he lost to the PML-N candidate.

Later, the bench heard his appeal but reserved the judgement, which was announced on Wednesday.

The bench observed that an elected representative should be a “role model”, possessing qualifications like being law-abiding, having a good character, being sagacious, righteous, not-profligate, honest and ‘ameen’ and if the candidate lacked any of such qualifications he could not represent people.

“Qualification means possession of those attributes that entitle a person to be considered for some post or office, while disqualification means loss of those attributes by certain acts or omission,” it said.

The bench held that since Section 24(1) of AJK’s Interim Constitution recognised only three qualifications for a candidate to the Legislative Assembly, such qualifications could not be added through an amendment to the subordinate law (Elections Ordinance 1970) without amending the Constitution.

However, instead of drawing any conclusion by itself, the bench “left the question open to be decided in some other proper case”.

“It is desirable that the legislature and the government should make arrangements for bringing suitable amendments to provide such qualifications in the AJK Constitution as are provided in the Constitution of Pakistan,” the bench said.

Raja Khalid Mahmood, counsel for Khan Bahadur, termed the judgement as “self-contradictory and in conflict with the facts, statutes and precedents” and said his side would point them out in detail in a review petition.

He said qualifications of a candidate were validly inserted in Section 5 of the AJK Assembly Elections Ordinance by the legislature.

He said that despite it being a high profile case, the court had left the agitated points to be decided in some other case.

courtesy : dawn news

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