“So, is it that what you cannot do individually [that is contest elections], you can do collectively through some of your agents?”
This was the question of the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, in a petition before the Supreme Court of India.
The petition concerns the question that if a convict is to be banned from contesting elections, should he/she also be debarred from heading a political party and, by that virtue, controlling other elected members of his/her party?
Surely, the same question has been quite debated within Pakistan, except that instead of a conviction for a crime, we have a declaration of ‘dishonesty’.
Nonetheless, logic seems to be lost on us as we allow a person having been declared as ‘dishonest’ by the Supreme Court head one of the biggest and most popular party in Pakistan, a party which also so happens to be the governing party.
Whilst I would agree that the declaration does not amount to a conviction, it does hold significant weight in helping us with an “interim conclusion”. As the trial on the matter takes its due course and makes its way through, we sit back and wait to see if we have ourselves a convict.
As we wait though, there is one question that I have for our very own Supreme Court, a question that does not require one to only ponder upon the legitimacy of a convict heading a political party, but is in addition to it and goes far beyond, and a question I hope the Supreme Court would respond to whether or not we get ourselves a convict.
If corruption is planned as part of a scheme to rule the State, evidenced by the involvement of major political figures in the service of the State, is it possible for it to fall short of being an organized crime against the State?
And if the answer to the foregoing is negative, then in procedure it may be, but in substance, however, there would be little that would separate it from treason. In this context, the pledge of loyalty of a political party and its leaders to the State is meant to be nothing more than what a lullaby is to a baby, to comfort it to sleep.
My question, to our very own Supreme Court, then is “When the crime at display is not low scale corruption, when the crime is not that of smuggling, robber, or other such offence, but that of corruption that is committed collectively under the façade of a political party with most of the major leaders of that party implicitly involved, should such a political party exist and any of its leaders contest elections at all?”
I await the answer to my question which may not even be considered until we have a convict, although I know in my heart what the answer should be, and it’s my loyalty to the State that takes me to that conclusion.