ISLAMABAD " A three-judge bench of Supreme Court on Wednesday disqualified Sharif brothers while upholding a Lahore High Court (LHC) ruling on June 23 last year regarding their ineligibility from holding any public office. As a result of the apex court decision, President of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Shahbaz Sharif ceased to hold the office of Chief Minister Punjab, the top slot in country's biggest province, which is the powerhouse of Pakistani politics. Though Nawaz Sharif, a two-time former Prime Minister of the country and Pakistan's most popular leader after the murder of Benazir Bhutto, is not holding any public office at present yet his disqualification will deepen the rift between the PML-N and ruling PPP. The conflict between the two major political forces would lead to further instability in the country, which is already up against a number of critical issues including growing militancy and opposition from lawyers besides political rivals. The former bitter rivals, PPP and PML-N had recently made repeated pledges to the nation to work together for the country and democracy and never repeat the political clashes they staged against each other in 1980s and early 1990s. During the proceedings, both the Sharif brothers were personally boycotting court proceedings in accordance with their stance that they did not acknowledge those judges who had taken oath under Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO) of President Musharraf on November 3, 2007 but federation and other parties had filed appeals before the apex court in the defence of PML-N top guns. After bagging the short order in a silent but tension packed courtroom, Akram Sheikh Advocate, one of the lawyers defending eligibility of Sharif brothers, blamed Presidency for the adverse ruling. "Sharif brothers were declared ineligible on the orders of Asif Zardari", Advocate Sheikh blamed the President while talking to a huge number of media persons outside the court. Akram Sheikh was not directly representing Sharif brothers but he was defending their eligibility on behalf of one of their key supporters who had backed the nomination of Nawaz Sharif from NA-123 (Lahore) in bye-elections. "The judges would be made accountable on the Day of Judgment", he further stated, adding that now it was up to the people to decide about the fate of judgement. Avoiding further questions about the decision, the senior lawyer said he could not offer any more comments on what he described "an incomplete two-line judgment". Senior Advocate Ahmed Raza Kasuri was leading the team of lawyers that was challenging the qualification of Sharif brothers. Earlier, a three-member bench of the apex court comprising Justice Moosa K. Leghari, Justice Syed Sakhi Hussain Bukhari and Justice Sheikh Hakim Ali, dismissed all appeals against the LHC order dated June 23, 2007 against the Sharif brothers. Federation of Pakistan, Speaker and Chief Secretary of Punjab, Shakeel Baig and Zafar Iqbal, the seconder and proposer of Sharif brothers were among the appellants in support of Sharif bothers. Allowing another appeal filed by Syed Khuram Shah against the eligibility of Shahbaz Sharif, the court ruled, "Shahbaz Sharif is declared not qualified to be elected or chosen as member of an Assembly". "The order dated 16.5.2008 of Returning Officer PP-48 Bhakar-2 accepting the nomination papers of Shahbaz Sharrif and judgement dated 23.6.2008 of Lahore High Court passed in W.P. No. 6470/2008 are set aside", the court further ruled. "Consequently, Shahbaz Sharif ceases to be Member of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab from the said constituency. Election Commission is directed to issue a notification thereby de-notifying Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif", the court further ruled in its short order, for which reasons will be given later. An application on behalf of Shakeel Baig and Mehr Zafar Iqbal, the proposer and seconder of Nawaz Sharrif seeking formation of a larger bench, comprising those judges who had not taken oath under the second PCO of former President Musharraf, to decide the Sharif brothers' case, was also dismissed by the bench. The plea was also asking the incumbent bench to recuse from adjudicating upon the issue, which attracts greater political and constitutional importance. The bench also imposed one hundred thousand rupees fine each on Shakeel Baig and Mehr Zafar Iqbal, the proposer and seconder of Sharif, for filing application against the bench. In case of default to pay within 15 days, the respondents will undergo a three-month imprisonment, the short order further said. Though the PPP Government was among the appellants before the court in support of Sharif brothers, yet its Attorney General Latif Khosa stunned the audience in the court yesterday when he argued against every point raised in support of Sharif brothers. From the locus standi of Chief Secretary Punjab, Speaker of Provincial Assembly, and that of proposer and seconder of Sharif brothers to the qualification of PML-N leaders, Khosa opposed everything in his arguments. The PPP government had itself filed the appeal in support of Sharif brothers after the PML-N top guns announced not to challenge the LHC ruling against them in protest against PCO courts. The Attorney General argued that all the judges had taken oath under the constitution and talking about the oath of the interim constitution was irrelevant. Opposing the plea for a larger bench, Khosa also told the judges that they could be dictated by anyone. "It is the discretion of the judge to withdraw from the Bench and no one could direct him to pull out", Khosa said. He also argued that Nawaz Sharif's proposer and seconder could become parties in the case if the court permited them and their becoming parties was not necessary. On conclusion of Khosa's arguments, the court took a short break before disqualifying the Sharif brothers and upheld the ruling of Lahore High Court. On June 23 last year, the LHC had disqualified elder Sharif and referred the eligibility of Shahbaz Sharif to Election Tribunal while conditionally allowing him to hold the office of the Chief Executive of the Province till final disposal of the legal controversy. Conviction of Nawaz Sharif in 1999 on charges of trying to hijack the plane of the then Army Chief and the former dictator Pervez Musharraf was made basis for disqualification of Chief of PML-N in October 12 that year. Shahbaz Sharif was alleged to have defaulted loans drawn from public financial institutions. The event led Gen Musharraf to overthrow the elected government of Nawaz Sharif on the same day and to become the President by imposing military rule in the country. After the announcement of judgement, a number of pro Sharifs lawyers chanted slogans against President Zardari and PPP government outside the court premises.