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The purpose of elections, both at provincial and national levels, is aimed to bring to fore, duly elected representatives of the masses. However, these representatives must subscribe to certain standards. Unfortunately, Article 62 and 63, that deal with the qualifications and disqualifications of a person aspiring to become a Member National Assembly and Member Provincial Assembly of Pakistan are so subjective and defective in interpretation and application- it can only be translated, that the writer of these laws must have been as ignorant of law as those who approved it. http://www.mofa.gov.pk/Publications/constitution.pdf
If we read Article 62,the qualifications required,therein, are purely subjective in nature, ie having “adequate” knowledge of Islamic practices, self-righteous, never having violated any Islamic Injunction., abstains from major sins…….the list is long.
The Article is purely subjective. Who will judge whether or not the knowledge of an aspirant to the seat(s), has or has not adequate knowledge of Islamic practices. This requirement leaves the door wide open for all kinds of interpretations . The other question it raises is, can anyone claim ,ever, to have adequate knowledge of Islamic practices in light of the different interpretations by different sects within Islam? In English Dictionary , the word adequate is described as “sufficient to satisfy a requirement or meet a need”. Who will, determine what is sufficient to meet the need? What is the barometer to judge this level? The second contradictory word is knowledge. Oxford English Dictionary defines it as ,”expertise and skills acquired by a person through experience or education, the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject”. The question here is, a degree, in a subject may be considered a proof of a “theoretical knowledge”, how will one judge the “knowledge gained through experience”? Definition of knowledge equally respects that acquired by theory(education) and that acquired by experience.
The term “self righteous” is defined as,” exhibiting pious self assurance”. Excuse me?
Article 62 is full of similar like subjective words that fail a legal mind in terms of interpretation to translate into application.
But this is not all. The Constitution is silent on the question, that should an aspirant , get elected, falsely projecting to fulfill the requirements laid down in the Article, what are to be the consequences, if exposed? Should the Election Commission forthwith declare his election null and void? Should he, in addition be subject to a fine? A sentence? Or both?
The Constitution is also silent, that should the elected person, fall below the required standard (the standard itself being subjective), after elections,should the elected representative face the same fate of one who may have falsely projected himself to get elected?
The Constitution leaves everyone to make their own deductions.
Article 63 that lays out rules for a person standing disqualified from running elections is no less confusing. The person stands disqualified on assorted grounds, including, if he has been convicted on grounds of corrupt practices, moral turpitude or misuse of power among other issues.
Misuse of power is defined as,” to use incorrectly”. This definition is broad based & applies to any elected person giving a “chit” of recommendation to embezzlement, and all shades of misuse in between and beyond.
Definition of moral turpitude states,” Moral turpitude refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience. Offenses such as murder, voluntary manslaughter, kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated assaults involve moral turpitude.” However, the examples stated here, are examples only. The bottom line is anything shocking public conscience.
In case the readers are wondering, why the definitions, and why these details, permit me to state that this is to highlight the impossibility of the law and equal impossibility of it’s application.
Article 63, like it’s sister article 62 is silent as to how to deal with an elected representative should he have hidden the grounds that disqualify him from holding the position in the first place or he acts in this manner, after being elected, to stand disqualified from holding the position.
The salient features or pre-requisites that should have been a part of Article 62 and Article 63 are conspicuously missing.
Missing is the requirement for the aspirant to be a single nationality holder ie a Pakistani ONLY. Though the law clearly states the aspirant must hold a Pakistani nationality, no where is it stated that the aspirant can be debarred from contesting should he have more than one nationality. The rule of law should begin with those who make the law to rule. Dual nationality has inherent dangers. It can and does lead to conflict of interests. South Central St Catherine Member of Parliament, Sharon Hay-Webster, served with court papers for having dual citizenship by the Court. The Court had ousted four Jamaica Labor Party Members of Parliament because there were found to hold dual nationality at the time of their nomination in 2007. According to The Nation dated 23rd Feb. 2011, the Election Commission of Pakistan had decided to suspend membership of those parliamentarians who had dual citizenship. However Dawn of 1st March 2011 in a report by Khawwar Ghumman reported that the government remained silent on the fate of parliamentarians having dual nationality.
Missing also is the prerequisite that aspirants must not have business and assets in terms of properties outside of Pakistan. Does this lead to conflict of interests?
Missing also is an important requirement that an aspirant must declare his assets and with it, complete updated taxation history. According to a report by Dawn dated 13th March 2011, there are several politicians who may have even more money but have not declared their assets. (http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/14/affluent-politicians.html). There is nothing in Article 62 and Article 63 that may disqualify them on this ground from holding their seat.
Abraham Lincoln once said,” Do not interfeare with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained for it is the only safeguard of our liberties”.
I am sure, he could not have stated the same for our Constitution.
The writer teaches in a Lahore based University. You may visit her SITE : https://pakpotpourri2.wordpress.com/