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January 17, 2020

ECP suspends 318 MPs for not submitting assets statements

National

January 17, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan on Thursday suspended members of 318 legislators, including some members of the federal cabinet for their inability to submit details of their statement of assets and liabilities.

According to the ECP notification, 12 Senators and 70 MNAs have been suspended. Similarly, as many as 115 MPAs were suspended from Punjab Assembly, 40 from Sindh Assembly, 60 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly and 21 from Balochistan Assembly. Relevant quarters in the respective legislatures have been alerted to bar them from performing their official duties, unless they comply with the law requirement.

Among the cabinet members are: Minister for Religious Affairs Noorul Haq Qadri, Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Minister for Science and Technology Ch. Fawad Hussain and Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gull. The suspended parliamentarians include Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Aamir Kiani, Aamir Hussain, Rana Shamim Ahmad and Shaukat Ali while Senators include Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Najma Hameed and Zeeshan Khanzada.

Failure to submit the statement of assets and liabilities is a violation of Section 137 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017 and Rule 137 (1) of the Election Rules: both make it binding on the elected members to submit the related documents to the Election Commission by December 31 of each year.

According to Section 137 (3) of the Elections Act, 2017, members who failed to submit the statements by January 15, are suspended until they fulfill the legal requirement. It is pertinent that prior the Elections Act, 2017, the last date prescribed for the purpose was September 30 and the ECP had the powers to suspend membership of those failing to meet the mandatory requirement by October 15.

However, afterwards, the law was amended to extend the deadline to December 31. It is needless to say that the ‘grace period of 15 days’ practically means their membership will not be suspended before January 16. Whereas, Section 137 of the Elections Act reads:

(1) Every Member of an Assembly and Senate shall submit to the Commission, on or before 31st December each year, a copy of his statement of assets and liabilities including assets and liabilities of his spouse and dependent children as on the preceding thirtieth day of June on Form B.

(2) The Commission, on the first day of January each year through a press release, shall publish the names of Members who failed to submit the requisite statement of assets and liabilities within the period specified under subsection (1).

(3) The Commission shall, on the sixteenth day of January, by an order suspend the membership of a Member of an Assembly and Senate who fails to submit the statement of assets and liabilities by the fifteenth day of January and such Member shall cease to function till he files the statement of assets and liabilities.

(4) Where a Member submits the statement of assets and liabilities under this section which is found to be false in material particulars, he may, within one hundred and twenty days from the date of submission of the statement, be proceeded against for committing the offence of corrupt practice.