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Pakistan Supreme Court rules former PM must step down as party head

[JURIST] The Pakistan Supreme Court ruled [judgment, PDF] Wednesday that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif can no longer be the head of the Pakistan Muslim League, the country's ruling party.

The decision was made through analysis of Articles 62, 63, and 63-A of the Constitution of Pakistan [text]. Articles 62 and 63 enumerate the qualifications and disqualifications for being a member of Parliament (Majlis-e-Shoora). Sharif was forced to step down as prime minister after being disqualified [JURIST report] by the Supreme Court over corruption allegations. Sharif was subsequently indicted [JURIST report] on the corruption charges in October 2017.

The court considered the role of a party head whose party has representation in Parliament as having a "central role in the performance of duties by the Members of the Parliament" under Article 63-A. The party head also has increased powers under the Elections Act, 2017 [text, PDF] regarding "the process of elections to the Parliament and to matters relating to the affairs of political parties having parliamentary presence." The court deemed the sections of the Election Act, 2017 concerning the powers of the party head to be subject to the qualifications and disqualifications under Articles 62 and 63.

The court concluded that a person who had been disqualified (or lacking qualification) from Parliament is barred from exercising the powers of a party head, or "any other power in the said capacity under any law, rule, regulation, statute, instrument or document of any political party." As a result, the Election Commission of Pakistan must remove Sharif as the party head.

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