Parliamentarians’ asset statements to be scrutinised from December 1: ECP

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) Monday decided to scrutinise parliamentarians’ annual asset statements from Thursday (December 1).

The ECP reactivated its Political Finance Wing, which was initially set up before the general elections 2013 for the investigation of assets of political parties and elected representatives with an aim to stop corruption in politics.

The decision of reactivating the wing was made as it came to light that although parliamentarians file details of their assets, yet these details are not verified. The Political Finance Wing of the ECP will initiate a probe under Additional Secretary ECP Fida Mohammad and the investigation would begin randomly.

The Secretary ECP was given the assignment to prepare standard operating procedures (SOPs) regarding scrutiny of assets and liabilities of the parliamentarians.

The Commission may also direct the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), provincial boards of revenue, Accountant General Pakistan Revenue (AGPR) and other organisations for assistance, if required.

An official of the ECP told Business Recorder that ECP can take appropriate action against those who submit wrong details of their assets under the existing election laws and the action did not require any amendment in this regard.

He further said that the ECP is a constitutional body which is responsible for organising and conducting elections in the country.

Under Article 218(3) of the Constitution, the Commission is charged with the duty of “organising and conducting elections and making such arrangements which are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly and fairly.”

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in its judgement regarding Workers Party Case (Constitution Petition No 87/2011) provided a detailed explanation of the words ‘honestly’, ‘justly’ and ‘fairly’ and explained the powers of the Commission under Article 218(3) of the Constitution.

Consequently, the ECP must fulfil its obligation under Article 218 of the Constitution to ensure holding of free, fair and transparent elections and achieve these purposes by seeking assistance, if necessary, from the executive authorities in the federation in this behalf which are obliged to render such assistance by virtue of Article 220 of the Constitution.

The official maintained that any political party would not only verify the assets details of individual parliamentarians but also the details of party funds submitted by it.

Meanwhile, the ECP also dismissed two separate petitions filed from the ordinary citizens, seeking to disqualify Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan.

-Business Recorder