Pakistan's Supreme Court on Thursday disqualified 12 federal and provincial lawmakers, including Interior Minister Rehman Malik, for violating provisions of the Constitution by holding dual nationality.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry issued the order in response to a petition filed by a man named Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi, who had asked the apex court to disqualify all lawmakers having dual nationality.
However, in the case of Malik -- who was a British citizen until May 29, 2012, -- the disqualification related to his membership of the Senate or upper house of Parliament between 2008 and June this year.
After the apex court had suspended Malik's membership of the Senate in June on the ground that he had not provided proof of renouncing his British citizenship, Malik had resigned as a lawmaker. He had contested a bypoll to the Senate in July and was re-elected to the upper house.
The court also observed that Malik had submitted an erroneous affidavit for the 2008 Senate elections in violation of election laws.
It declared that Malik, "in view of the false declaration filed by him at the time of contesting the election to the Senate held in the year 2008, wherein he was elected, cannot be considered sagacious, righteous, honest and amen (faithful)."
The fate of Malik's current membership of the Senate will depend on the outcome of action that will have to be taken against him by the Chairman of the Senate and the Election Commission on the basis of today's Supreme Court order, legal experts said.
Announcing the verdict the bench said that under Article 63 (1C) of the Constitution no lawmaker can hold dual nationality.
The other lawmakers who were disqualified are Farahnaz Isphani Zahid Iqbal Farhad Muhammad Khan and Jamil Malik (all members of Parliament), Muhammad Ikhlaq Ashraf Chohan Chaudhry Waseem Qadir, Amna Buttar and Nadeem Khadim (all members of the Punjab Assembly), and Ahmad Ali Shah Nadia and Gabool Sindh (both members of the Sindh Assembly).
The disqualified lawmakers belong to the ruling Pakistan People's Party, main opposition PML-N and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key ally in governments at the Centre and in Sindh.
Ispahani is a close aide of President Asif Ali Zardari and the wife of former envoy to the US, Husain Haqqani.
The Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to take action against the disqualified lawmakers and submit a report in this regard within two weeks.
The court further directed authorities to withdraw all privileges provided to the lawmakers and recoup the salaries and allowances they had drawn from the national exchequer.
The apex court further ordered all lawmakers to submit a fresh affidavit declaring that they do not hold dual nationality.
Talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court Interior Minister Malik said it would not be fair for him to comment till he had read the complete judgment.
Noting that he respected the court and its decisions, Malik said: "My case was segregated."
Anwar Mansur Khan the counsel for Malik, clarified that the apex court's ruling did not affect his client's current membership of Parliament and that he would continue to be a Senator and a federal minister.
He said the court had referred the issue of a false declaration made by Malik about his dual nationality at the time of contesting the 2008 election to the Chairman of the Senate.
The apex court said in its order: "As regards the case of Senator A Rehman Malik, it may be noted that at the time of filing of nomination papers for election to the Senate held in the year 2008, he had made a false declaration to the effect that he was not subject to any of the disqualifications specified in Article 63 of the Constitution or any other law for the time being in force for being elected as a member of the Parliament/provincial assembly...."
It further said Article 63(2) of the Constitution states that a "person shall not be qualified from being elected or chosen as a member of an assembly unless he is sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and amen (faithful)."