The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday suspended the membership of 261 lawmakers for failure to submit details of their finances under sub-section 42A of the Representation of People Act (RoPA) by Sept 30.
An ECP notification named members of the National Assembly, Senate and provincial assemblies as among those "who have failed to file their statements of assets and liabilities" for themselves, their spouses and their dependants.
The notification directed that the lawmakers "shall cease to function as such members with immediate effect and till such statements are submitted by them".
Seven senators, 71 MNAs, 84 MPAs from Punjab, 50 from Sindh, 38 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 11 from Balochistan are among those whose membership has been suspended by the ECP.
The greatest proportion of lawmakers who did not disclose their assets belong to the KP provincial assembly, in which the financial statements of 30.7 per cent of the assembly are awaited by the ECP, followed by the Sindh Assembly (29.7pc), the Punjab Assembly (22.6pc), the National Assembly (20.7pc), the Balochistan Assembly (16.9pc) and the Senate (6.7pc).
Introduced in 2002 by the then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, RoPA is flouted by politicians at will. Under the law, all parliamentarians are required to submit details of their assets ─ including those of their spouses and children ─ to the ECP by Sept 30.
Section 42A of the RoPA, 1976, states:
“Every member shall, on a form prescribed under clause (f) of sub-section (2) of Section 12, submit a Statements of Assets & Liabilities of his own, his spouse and dependents annually to the Commission by the thirtieth day of September each year.
The Statements of Assets and Liabilities submitted under sub-section (1) shall be published in the official Gazette and copies thereof may be obtained on payment of prescribed fee.
The Commission shall, by the fifteenth day of October each year, notify the names of the members who fail to file Statements of Assets & Liabilities within the period specified in sub-section (1) and by an order, direct that such member shall cease to function till such statement is submitted.
Where a member submits the Statements of Assets and Liabilities under sub-section (1) which is found to be false in material particulars, he may be proceeded against under Section 82 for committing the offence of corrupts practice.”
Lawmakers allege that the relevant law has several flaws and has failed to motivate any meaningful accountability, which was the basic spirit of the legislation.
Last year, 336 lawmakers were suspended by the ECP for failure to submit their financial statements to the commission.