Islamabad: Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that a person disqualified under Article 62 and 63 of the Constitution cannot serve as the head of a political party, in a blow to Nawaz Sharif who will no longer remain the chief of the ruling PML-N.
Sharif, 68, was disqualified by the apex court in the Panama Papers case in July 2017 under Article 62 for failing to declare a receivable salary as an asset.
A three-judge Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar on Wednesday said that it is mandatory for a party chief to fulfil the requirements of Articles 62 and 63 as a party head is powerful and political parties control the government.
"It is crucial for parliamentarians to be of good conduct to run the affairs of the Parliament," he said.
After Sharif's disqualification as prime minister, the ruling PML-N amended the Constitution to allow him to retain his chairmanship of the party. As a result, the Elections Act 2017 was passed by Parliament.
The act paved the way for Sharif to become the PML-N chief after he stepped down as party president following his disqualification by the apex court in July 2017.
Under the old law, a person disqualified from holding a public office was also barred from leading a political party but the bar was removed by the parliament when it passed Elections Act 2017.
The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), Awami Muslim League, Pakistan People's Party and others petitioned the apex court against the Elections Act 2017.
The apex court began hearing the case in January 2018. Justice Nisar, while reading out the verdict, said that a person who is disqualified under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution is not eligible to sign on any document needed to nominate someone to the National Assembly or Senate.
The verdict will not affect the PML-N's registration as a party.
However, decisions taken by Sharif will be nullified, including tickets issued by him for the Senate elections.
With the judgement, it is possible that the Senate elections scheduled for March 3 will have to be postponed. Referring to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's speech in Parliament on Monday, in which he criticised the judiciary for "insulting" elected officials, Justice Nisar said that the judiciary had never called any politician a "thief". Instead, the judge said that he had praised the country's leadership and added that he does not "owe anyone an explanation".
Sharif and some of his family members are facing charges relating to their ownership of posh properties in London.
Three cases were registered by the National Accountability Bureau against Sharif, his children and son-in-law in the court on September 8. Sharif has held several rallies in different parts of Pakistan since his ouster.
He has targeted the judiciary for removing him from the office of the prime minister and also come up with 'give respect to the ballot' slogan.