ISLAMABAD: On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) gave a month to Faisal Vawda, the newly engaged counsel for the Federal Minister for Water Supplies, to prepare arguments on a petition seeking disqualification of the latter over dual nationality.
However, IHC Justice Aamer Farooq made it clear that this will be Mr. Vawda’s last chance to refute the charges posed against him in the petition that at the time of filing his nomination papers for the 2018 elections, he was a dual national.
The incumbent secretary of the Lahore High Court Bar Association, Haroon Duggal, addressed his wakalatnama to the court. He told the court that his wakalatnama had been removed by the lawyer who previously represented Mr. Vawda, adding that because he did not know the specifics of the case, he would have enough time to prepare arguments.
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Justice Farooq said the case was very clear. The petitioner relied on the documents sent by Mr Vawda to the returning officer at the time his nomination papers were filed.
IHC asks minister’s lawyer to prepare arguments in disqualification case within a month
The judge further claimed that as Mr. Vawda had signed and filed both the nominating papers and the affidavit, the lawyer was supposed to assist the court in a case relating to the disqualification of three senators belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in compliance with the conditions provided by the apex court.
It may be noted that in the operational portion of that judgement, the supreme court had made it clear that if the applicant had not renounced his citizenship and the proposal had not been accepted by the other country on the cut-off date of the filing of the nomination papers, he would not have been entitled to contest the election.
The petitioner’s counsel, Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, told the court that the minister was making a joke of justice, and the change of lawyer was a delaying tactic.
However, Justice Farooq observed that because this is a matter of de-seating a member of the cabinet, the court will not be hasty. He asked Mr Vawda’s lawyer not to challenge the court’s tolerance.
During the last hearing of the case on 4 November, Senior Counsel for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Sanaullah Zahid submitted to the court, at the time of the filing of his nomination papers, the record which Mr. Vawda submitted to the returning officer to challenge the election.
The court observed that the affidavit of 11 June 2018 was inconsistent with the fact that on 25 June of the same year, Mr Vawda rescinded his US citizenship.
Mr Vawda’s former counsel requested an adjournment for the planning of claims, but on Thursday he did not appear before the judge.
According to the petition, at the time of filing his nomination papers, Mr Vawda hid his dual nationality and wrongly claimed on oath before the ECP that “he did not have any foreign nationality.”
It claimed that on the last date, which was approved on 18 June, the PTI Minister had submitted his nomination papers, adding that Mr. Vawda had applied to the US Consulate in Karachi for the renunciation of his US nationality on 22 June and that the latter had given him a certificate on 25 June.
Citing the related judgments of the superior courts, the petition claimed that, because at the time of filing his nomination papers, Mr. Vawda was a dual national, he withheld his U.S. identity and filed a false affidavit concerning his citizenship, so that he could be barred from holding the seat of the National Assembly and the office of the Federal Minister.