Pakistan's Supreme Court on Monday scrapped lifetime bans on contesting elections for people with criminal convictions, paving the way for Nawaz Sharif to run for prime minister for a fourth time, APA reports citing Reuters.
Sharif's party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, is considered a front runner to win elections scheduled for Feb. 8, with Sharif's main rival, former prime minister Imran Khan, in jail and barred from contesting for five years.
In his ruling, Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, who headed a seven-member panel of judges, said the life bans "abridge the fundamental right of citizens to contest elections".
The court's decision was six to one in favour of overruling a previous 2018 decision that imposed life bans on politicians convicted under certain provisions of the constitution.
Sharif, 74, was found guilty in 2017 of dishonest practices, which qualified for a ban under the 2018 ruling. Last year, the courts overturned the two convictions.
While Sharif was not an applicant in the latest Supreme Court case, which was filed by other politicians, the ruling makes him eligible to contest the polls as more than five years have elapsed since 2017.
Khan, 71, whose party won the last elections in 2018, will not benefit from the ruling as it abolishes only life bans, which means the cricketer-turned-politician remains disqualified until 2028.