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SC gives Faisal Vawda an option that could soften his disqualification sentence if he accepts it

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday gave former PTI leader Muhammad Faisal Vawda an option that could soften his disqualification sentence if he accepts it.

“If Vawda confesses to submitting a forged [citizenship] affidavit then he will be disqualified for one term; however, if the politician does not, then it will be for a lifetime,” Supreme Court of Pakistan said during the hearing of the petition against Muhammad Faisal Vawda's lifetime disqualification from running or holding public office.

A three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial heard the petition. The bench comprises Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Mrs. Ayesha A. Malik as members.

The court also ordered Vawda to bring a certificate proving his renunciation of US citizenship in the next hearing.

“Vawda should admit his mistake and be disqualified under 63(1) C, otherwise the court shall proceed with the case under 62(1) F,” the Chief Justice said adding, “There is enough material before the court to disqualify Vawda for life”.

Vawda challenged his lifetime disqualification following a verdict issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

Vawda’s counsel, Waseem Sajjad, argued that the ECP did not have the powers to disqualify his client for a lifetime and it was not a court of law either.

The ECP had declared Vawda ineligible to run for any public office in a verdict against the case regarding his knowingly submitting a forged affidavit regarding the status of his US nationality.

“The court ordered the former PTI leader to appear before the Supreme Court and confess that he changed the date in the dual citizenship certificate,” the CJP said.

CJP Bandial further said there was enough material before the court that “easily proves Vawda submitted a forged affidavit”.

Adding to CJ’s remarks, Justice Ayesha Malik said Islamabad High Court (IHC) had the power to lifetime disqualification.

“Why can't the Supreme Court disqualify him for life in the light of the evidence available to the court? said Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, adding, "Vawda told many lies to cover up one lie”.

The IHC has rejected his plea, citing that the act of filing a fake affidavit with the court had severe consequences while a judgement of the SC’s larger bench was also available in which several parliamentarians have been disqualified.