In a landmark decision yesterday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan overturned the controversial 'lifetime disqualification' aspect in Article 62(1)(f).
The ruling, with a majority of six to one, deemed the lifetime bans as a violation of the fundamental right of citizens to participate in elections.
Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, leading a seven-member panel of judges, highlighted the overreach of a 2018 decision that imposed life bans on politicians convicted under specific constitutional provisions. According to Reuters, the decision is expected to impact the political landscape, with Sharif's party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), emerging as a front-runner in the upcoming elections scheduled for February 8.
Although Nawaz Sharif was not a direct applicant in the recent case, the ruling makes him eligible to contest the polls, given that more than five years have elapsed since his 2017 conviction. His main rival, former Prime Minister Imran Khan, currently in jail and barred from contesting for five years, will not benefit from the decision, as it abolishes only life bans, leaving his disqualification in place until 2028.
The decision has garnered mixed reactions, with PML-N lauding the end of the "dark chapter of judicial injustice," while one of Khan's lawyers lamented the scrapping of the ban as the "death of law and the constitution."
The ruling reshapes the political landscape ahead of the upcoming elections, setting the stage for heightened competition and potential shifts in power dynamics.