ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday suspended the notice of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) which asked all 352 political parties to submit lists of at least 2,000 of their members and deposit the enlistment fee of Rs200,000 each by Dec 2 or be ready to be de-listed.

On Oct 20 the ECP had issued the notification under the recently-adopted Elections Act, 2017, asking all political parties to comply with provisions of its Sections 201, 202, 209 and 210 within 60 days of its enforcement.

It asked all political parties to “provide a list of at least two thousand of its members with their signatures or thumb impressions, along with copies of National Identity Cards (Form 63 enclosed) and proof of deposit of two hundred thousand rupees in favour of the Election Commission of Pakistan in State Bank of Pakistan or National Bank of Pakistan, as enlistment fee within 60 days”.

IHC Justice Aamer Farooq suspended the notice after a preliminary hearing of the petition, filed by little-known political parties having no representation in the parliament.

The ECP notification warned the political parties that in case they failed to comply with the notification, the ECP would cancel their enlistment under Section 202(5) of the Act.

The petitioners cited the secretary of ministry of law, the ECP, and the director general (elections) as respondents in their petition. The IHC bench also issued notices to these respondents.

The petitioners were four political parties: the Democratic Party of Pakistan, Pakistan Democratic Front, Sada-i-Pakistan Party and Pakistan Muslim League (Safdar). The petitioners said that they were legally enlisted political parties after having fulfilled all procedural and codal formalities.

They further said that provisions of the Elections Act, 2017, were ultra vires and against the constitution and requested the court to suspend the ECP notification of Oct 20.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2017