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July 28, 2017

Elections Bill 2017: MPs to face termination for failure to submit asset details


July 28, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms (PCER) has approved the draft of Elections Bill 2017 which proposes up to Rs0.1 million fine or three-year imprisonment for lawmakers if irregularities are found in the details of their assets.

The proposed law also suggests that the membership of lawmakers should also be terminated if they fail to submit the details. According to a copy of the draft bill, the process of submission of assets’ details will also be changed. The lawmakers will be asked to submit the details of their assets by June 30 every year, the draft reads.

The bill also proposes additional powers for Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) enabling it to summon the services of any institution in order to investigate any irregularity in the asset details submitted by lawmakers.

The lawmakers, who fail to submit the details within 60 days, will lose their assembly membership, the bill proposed. Explaining the process of membership termination, the bill reads that ECP will first serve a show-cause notice on the lawmaker and if the membership is terminated subsequently the said lawmaker will have 30 days to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

All details regarding the assets of parliamentarians will be published on ECP website, it also said. Last month the ECP had warned that time was running out for the enactment of electoral reforms if political parties wanted the next general elections to be held under the proposed laws. Expressing concern over the delay in the promulgation of the Election Laws 2017, the ECP had written to the National Assembly speaker through the NA secretary asking him to direct the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms to finalise its recommendations and lay the bill before Parliament for making necessary legislation and enact the Election Act 2017 as early as possible so the ECP could start and complete its work in time according to the new law.

The ECP letter however maintains that under Section 14 of the draft Election Law 2017, the ECP is required to prepare a comprehensive action plan specifying all legal and administrative measures that have been taken or are required to be taken at least six months before the general elections.

The draft Election Law 2017 was presented by Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Ishaq Dar who heads the parliamentary committee in an interim report on Dec 20 last year before both houses of Parliament.

While presenting the report the minister said that the committee had decided to seek feedback from all stakeholders including parliamentarians adding that a final draft would be completed within 30 days once all recommendations had been incorporated.

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