LAHORE- The accusations levelled by independently elected MNA Jamshed Dasti on his co-parliamentarians are highly alarming yet at this stage they only make for moral violation than legal infringement.
Judicial experts like other social segments are equally perturbed by what the MNA from Mufaffargarh disclosed on the floor of National Assembly about the character and conduct of the MNAs residing in the Parliamentary Lodges, but his charge-sheet is quite embryonic in nature at this point and needs solid proof and evidence against the specific parliamentarians if any penal action has to be ensued on them.
Dasti alleged debauchery on the parliamentarians living in the lodges. While speaking to the House last day he accused the MNAs of drinking, womanising and openly enjoying dancing and wanted the Speaker to take action on their practice.
This sort of conduct by an MNA is really stinking for every Pakistani and particularly offending for the voters of voting a dissipated person to the parliament. The allegations however need tangible material as evidence to let the Chair hold inquiry into the same and starting this exercise with establishing veracity and genuineness of the recorded, documentary, circumstantial and evidential material produced by Dasti for the purpose of substantiating his case.
Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution deal with qualification and disqualification of parliamentarians. Article 62 which determines qualification of a person for parliamentary membership discusses character of that person, his following of the Islamic injunctions, knowledge and practice on the obligatory duties of Islam and his righteousness and honesty, and moral turpitude etc. But Article 63, which relates to disqualification, does not present a clear picture on this score.
However, it did not mean that the alleged offence cannot stand against a guilty member but the fact is if the allegations are established they would call for strict action than to ordinary offender for every elected person is under oath to protect the Constitution and follow do’s and don’ts of Islam and act accordingly to law of land.
However the jurists view this situation would come up when Dasti would prima facie make out his case and through inquiry the allegations are found bona fide to enable the Speaker refer the matter to the Election Commission of Pakistan with his own observations and remarks in the light of which the ECP would determine quantum of the sentence after holding scrutiny on its own end.
Former Law Minister SM Zafar says that so far the allegations are quite of general nature which hardly calls for any punishment under the law unless they were specified against any individual. Saying that the alleged conduct of the elected persons is highly hurting for the voters and the people, he viewed that establishment of the allegations for the purpose of disqualification of a member is an arduous task as many stages has to pass through before achieving finality of any decision under the law.
Zafar says character of a person can be questioned before the election when he seeks candidature and the person can be disqualified but after election this option is lost. He says now if an elected member acts against the state and public interest, he can be punished with disqualification etc. as such what Dasti alleged may be studied as a violation of social norms but it hardly falls in the ambit of law and the court.
Senior jurist and former SCBA President Abid Hassan Minto opines that allegations levelled by Dasti relate to the private activity of the members and how the accuser got affected by it is a question. In his view if Dasti is sure about the evidence in his hand, he can even himself get an FIR registered to have the matter privately probed.
As to action inside the House, he opines, if an act of depravity is found against a particular member on the allegation levelled, it may follow penalty for violation of discipline that cannot be stretched to disqualification as member of the assembly. He said even disqualification provided under the constitution cannot be pressed into service against an elected member, unless he suffers from the term of jail, through the court of law, as it is fixed for de-seating him.
Former Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council and President SCBA, Muhammad Yasin is shocked by Dasti’s revelations and wants the speaker to hold inquiry into the allegations to purge the house of the members of such perverted character. He said it is a big injustice with the people and the voters that they are being represented by the parliamentarians who have glaring taints on the character. Azad said the alleged offence has not be committed at a private place but at public place and openly – which calls for due action against the perpetrators.