ISLAMABAD: The federal and provincial caretaker governments appear not to care about the law as the interim prime minister and chief ministers and members of their cabinet have so far ignored the legal requirement of submitting the statements of their assets to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Under the Elections Act 2017, it is mandatory for the caretaker prime minister and chief ministers as well as members of their cabinets to submit statements of their assets and liabilities to the ECP within three days of assuming office.
An ECP official told Dawn that the caretakers were required to submit statements of their assets and liabilities, and those of their spouses and children, depicting the position as on June 30.
Under Section 230 of the Elections Act, he said, the statements to be made on a specified form would be published in the official gazette.
Caretaker Prime Minister retired Justice Nasirul Mulk assumed office on June 1 and was required under the law to file the statement of assets and liabilities of his own, spouse and dependants by June 4, but he has not done so even after a lapse of around a week after the legal deadline. Only one of six members of his cabinet had filed the statement of assets, the official said, adding that the legal requirement had not been met also by any of the caretaker chief ministers and members of their cabinets.
The law bars the caretaker government from taking major policy decisions, except on urgent matters, and restricts it to activities that are of routine, non-controversial and urgent nature, in public interest and reversible by the future government. The caretaker government is required to perform its functions to attend to day-to-day matters which are necessary to run government affairs.
The caretaker government is barred by the law from taking any decision or making a policy that may have effect or pre-empt the exercise of authority by the future elected government, entering into a major contract or undertaking if it is detrimental to public interest, entering into a major negotiation with a foreign country or international agency or signing or ratifying an international binding instrument, except in an exceptional case.
The caretaker government also has no powers to make promotions and major appointments of government officials, but is permitted to make acting or short-term appointments in public interest. The caretakers will not transfer government officials unless it is considered expedient and that too after the ECP’s approval.
The caretaker government will not attempt to influence general elections or cause to be done anything which may, in any manner, influence or adversely affect free and fair elections.
Meanwhile, the Election Rules, 2017, bar the caretaker prime minister from shuffling government officials without prior permission of the ECP.
Rule 170 of the Election Rules states: “The caretaker government may transfer or shuffle public officials, if considered expedient, after the approval of the Commission. The directions of the Commission shall be complied with by the caretaker government and the compliance report shall be sent to the ECP immediately.”
Published in Dawn, June 10th, 2018