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The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday suspended the legislative membership of 318 lawmakers from all the six legislative houses, including Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah, four federal ministers, a state minister, a provincial minister and a provincial deputy speaker, for failing to submit their wealth statements before the Commission, a mandatory constitutional requirement for every legislator.
The suspension of memberships implies that the related lawmakers are no longer entitled to perform duties as members of Parliament/MPAs. The lawmakers who are government functionaries have lost their ministerial portfolios or related positions till they meet the constitutional requirements and their membership is restored by the ECP.
The suspended members belong to mainstream political parties, smaller groups as well as independent legislators. They include 115 members of Punjab Assembly, 70 members of National Assembly (MNAs), 60 members of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, 40 MPAs from Sindh, 21 MPAs from Balochistan and 12 senators.
The four federal ministers are: Law Minister Farogh Naseem, Religious Affairs Minister Noor-ul-Qadri, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Housing and Works Minister Tariq Bashir Cheema. Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul is also among the legislators whose membership has been suspended by ECP for not submitting the statements of assets and liabilities.
Deputy Speaker Sindh Assembly Shehla Raza and Sindh's Provincial Minister for Local Government Saeed Ghani are also in the list of lawmakers with suspended membership.
Among other prominent legislators in the list include Senators Musadik Malik, Hasil Bizenjo, Najma Hameed, Sabir Shah and others. The MNAs include Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Aamir Mehmood Kayani, Farrukh Habib, Raja Riaz, Alamgir Khan, Qadir Patel, Munaza Hassan and others. The MPAs (Punjab Assembly) include Hamid Yar Hiraj, Bilal Yaseen, Awais Leghari, Dost Muhammad Leghari and others. The MPAs (Balochistan Assembly) include Sardar Yar Muhammad Rind, Sanaullah Baloch and others. The MPAs from KP Assembly include Ikramullah Gandapur and others.
The ECP has suspended the membership of the lawmakers in accordance with Section 137 (3) of the Elections Act 2017. It reads, "The Commission shall, on the sixteenth day of January, by an order suspend the membership of a Member of an Assembly and Senate who fails to submit the statement of assets and liabilities by the fifteenth day of January and such Member shall cease to function till he files the statement of assets and liabilities."
Constitutionally, all the parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies are bound to submit their yearly statements of assets and liabilities and those of their spouses and dependent children as on each year's June 30.
The Section 137 (1) of the Elections Act, 2017 reads, "Submission of statement of assets and liabilities- (1) Every Member of an Assembly and Senate shall submit to the Commission, on or before 31st December each year, a copy of his statement of assets and liabilities including assets and liabilities of his spouse and dependent children as on the preceding thirtieth day of June on Form B."
The Section 137 (2) of this Act reads, "The Commission, on the first day of January each year through a press release, shall publish the names of members who failed to submit the requisite statement of assets and liabilities within the period specified under sub-section (1)."
Recently, the ECP sought explanation from Chairman Pakistan peoples Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari for alleged disparities in his statement of assets and liabilities submitted with the Commission.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020