Loopholes in the law restrain ECP from taking action against defiant lawmakers; proposed amendments await approval
ISLAMABAD: As the deadline to submit mandatory asset details ended on September 30, about 450 lawmakers continue to enjoy the 15-day grace period as per law, barring the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from suspending their membership.
Of the 1,174 lawmakers, 701 submitted statements of their properties and accounts by October 2, two days after the deadline expired. These include 222 MNAs, 74 senators, 193 members of Punjab Assembly, 121 of Sindh, 53 of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and 38 members of the Balochistan Assembly.
It is a mandatory exercise under the law that all members of the Senate, National Assembly and four provincial assemblies submit details of all properties owned in the last year by them, their spouses and dependent children by September 30 every year.
Section 42A of the Representation of the People Act, 1976, and Section 25A of the Senate (Elections) Act, 1975 – enacted in 2002 is flouted by lawmakers since it does not provide any punitive action against those disregarding it.
Read: Flouting laws: 958 lawmakers yet to submit asset details
The law also provides undue convenience to the lawmakers as their membership is immediately restored once they provide the asset details.
Moreover, the lawmakers are supposed to submit the details of their movable and immovable assets certified by registered accountancy firms, but they only provide random information, undervaluing the assets with impunity.
The ECP also does not have any mechanism to verify the statements, merely publishing them in the form of a booklet for each house.
Read: ECP orders political parties to submit asset details
According to an official of the ECP Law Wing, they had proposed amendments in the law during the PPP’s tenure, calling for immediate and three to four-month suspension of the members.
The commission had proposed formation of a special finance wing comprising officials of the ECP, FBR, Nadra to verify the genuineness of the statements, he said, adding Parliament is yet to act on the proposals.