Tuesday April 16, 2024

PTI still among ‘enlisted political parties’ of ECP

ECP in list of its enlisted political parties shows PTI at serial number 99

By Ansar Abbasi
January 16, 2024
Leaders and supporters of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are holding a protest demonstration against the party management of PTI, held at Clifton area in Karachi on Sunday, January 14, 2024. — PPI
 Leaders and supporters of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are holding a protest demonstration against the party management of PTI, held at Clifton area in Karachi on Sunday, January 14, 2024. — PPI

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) lost its election symbol but continues to be recognised as a political party by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

In its official website, the ECP in the list of its “enlisted political parties”, shows the PTI at serial number 99. The ECP website was visited on Monday evening. Does it mean that the PTI candidates, who after losing the party’s election symbol are contesting elections as independent candidates, after winning the polls would have the option of officially joining or representing PTI in the National and provincial assemblies?

Former attorney general and senior lawyer Anwar Mansoor when approached said that the PTI has been barred from contesting in the election as a political party but it has not been deregistered and is still being recognised as a political party by the ECP.

Mansoor said that although after having been deprived of its election symbol, the PTI candidates can only contest as independent candidates, after the elections those elected as independents have the option of joining PTI. The former attorney general added that the PTI as a political party can be represented in the next Parliament by those opting to join it after winning the elections as independent candidates.

Former secretary ECP Kanwar Dilshad, when approached, was surprised to find the PTI still on the ECP’s list of “Enlisted Political Parties”. He said that in his view the political party that loses its election symbol, also loses its official status as a political party. “The political party’s registration with the ECP gets cancelled with the withdrawal of the election symbol,” he said, adding that those who are elected as independent candidates cannot join the PTI.

For Dilshad the PTI lost its entity as an officially recognised political party by the ECP but Mansoor insists that there are some other legal provisions which talk about dissolution or deregistration of political party on the basis of a formal reference. ECP spokesman was approached but neither did he attend The News call nor did respond to a Whatsapp message.

Section 215 of the Election Act 2017, which was invoked by the ECP to withdraw PTI’s election symbol, envisages that if the political party fails to comply with the provision of section 209 or section 210, the Commission may after affording it or then an opportunity of being heard, declare it or then ineligible to obtain an election symbol for election to Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), Provincial Assembly or a local government, and the Commission shall not allocate an election symbol to such political party or combination of political parties in subsequent elections.

The said section does not talk about the dissolution or de-registration of the political party but only refers to withdrawal of election symbol for “subsequent elections”. The law and constitution are silent on whether or not independent candidates, belonging to a political party that has lost its election symbol, in case of winning the elections can join such a party in Parliament after having been notified as successful candidates by the ECP.

The Constitution, however, in case of reserved seats allows the independent returned candidates to join within three days of publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates such political parties which have already secured any number of general seats in the elections.

Article 51 (6)(d) in term of seats reserved for women reads as: “(d) members to the seats reserved for women which are allocated to a Province under clause (3) shall be elected in accordance with law through proportional representation system of political parties’ lists of candidates on the basis of total number of general seats secured by each political party from the Province concerned in the National Assembly: Provided that for the purpose of this paragraph the total number of general seats won by a political party shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such a political party within three days of the publication in the official gazette of the names of the returned candidates.”