Friday's ruling addressed an ambiguity over Mr. Sharif's disqualification and whether he was barred from office for life or a specific period.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Friday, in a unanimous decision, declared that any person proved to be dishonest or not righteous is barred from politics for life or holding any public office.
This will effectively end any hopes for the return of three time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who had to resign after being declared dishonest by the apex court in July last year.
In its verdict, Justice Umar Ata Bandial wrote that the disqualification of any member of parliament or a public servant under Article 62 (1) (f) in the future will be permanent. “Such a person cannot contest elections or become a member of parliament,” the court declared. Article 62(1)(f) sets the precondition for a member of parliament to be honest and righteous.
Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar observed before the ruling that the public deserves leaders of good character.
Last year in July, Nawaz Sharif was disqualified after a probe ordered by the Supreme Court on Panama Papers found him guilty of not disclosing money from his son Hussain Nawaz’s company in Dubai. Sharif denied receiving any money from his son and termed the apex court decision a conspiracy to de-seat him.
Sharif’s party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is still ruling the country.
Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb criticized the court ruling saying that it a controversial decision. “Our party rejects this ruling. This is political victimization. It will be remembered as one of the most controversial rulings by the Supreme Court. It is not the job of the court to declare any politician righteous or not. This is the job of Parliament or the Election Commission,” she told reporters in Islamabad after the ruling.
The Supreme Court ruling will also effect a senior opposition member Jehangir Tareen who belongs to PTI, the party of former cricket captain Imran Khan. Tareen was disqualified late last year for not declaring some assets in UK to the tax authorities.
Sharif is currently facing dozens of cases in accountability court. He faces upto 21 years in jail if charges are proven. The decision in these cases are expected later this month or early next month.
General elections are expected in the last week of July this year. Sharif has already nominated his brother and Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif as the new party chief.