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June 14, 2018

Barring few, all caretakers violate law of land


June 14, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Except four, all members of the federal and provincial caretaker governments are violating the mandatory provisions of Elections Act 2017 under which they are required to submit to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) the details of their and their family’s wealth.

So far only four members of the caretaker setup including Prime Minister Justuice (R) Nasirul Mulk, Punjab Chief Minister Dr Hasan Askari, Interior Minister Azam Khan and Finance Minister Dr Shamshad Akhtar have submitted the details of their and their dependents’ assets to the ECP.

All others including the Chief Ministers’ of KP, Sindh and Balochistan, all the provincial cabinet ministers and most of the members of federal caretaker cabinet have not fulfilled this mandatory legal requirement of making their assets public. After receiving the details of their assets, the ECP is bound under the law to make this information public.

Federal cabinet has a total of six minister, Punjab also has same number of cabinet ministers, Balochistan has 11 and Sindh has seven ministers. In KP, the cabinet has not yet taken oath. It means a total of 30 members of the caretaker setup (including three CMs) have violated the law of the land.

Under Section 130(2) of the Elections Act 2017, “The Prime Minister, Chief Minister or a Minister or any other members of a Caretaker Governments shall, within three days from the date of assumption of office, submit to the Commission a statement of assets and liabilities including assets and liabilities of his spouse and dependent children as on the preceding 30th day of June on Form B and the Commission shall publish the statement of assets and liabilities in the official Gazette.”

This provision was added to the law to ensure transparency and allow the people to keep a check on the conduct of the members of the caretaker government and see if anyone of them has added any asset during the period of their stay in the interim setup. Members of the elected governments and all members of Parliament (National Assembly and Senate) and provincial assemblies are also bound by the law to declare their wealth annually besides declaring them at the time of contesting elections.

Although the ECP will notify the wealth statements of the caretakers once it receives the same from them, it is not expected to place this information on Commission’s official website.

Despite being far more powerful and independent than before, the ECP in 2018 already shied away from the 2013 election practice of placing on website details of nominations papers of all the candidates.

Neither previously nor after the enactment of Elections Act 2017 there is any legal bar on the ECP stopping it from using internet facility for greater response from public and media over the declarations of the election candidates. However, still the ECP this time avoided doing what it had done in 2013.

The ECP did not want to upset the political parties which during the recent years had been strongly expressing their reservations over placing the details of their assets, nomination papers etc on website.

In this background, the assets’ details of members of the caretaker setup will also not be placed on the ECP website for the facilitation of general public.

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