Election Bill 2017: Senate bars disqualified persons from holding party office

  • The bill moved by PTI parliamentary leader Shibli Faraz was supported by PPP, MQM-P, JI and PML-Q

ISLAMABAD – The Senate has approved the Elections (Amendment) Bill 2017 scrapping a controversial provision that allows a disqualified person to hold a office in party and contest elections.

The Senate on Monday passed the amendment with majority to revive Section 5 of Clause 203 of the Political Parties Order, 2002, curbing the ways for ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to hold party office.

This clause has a proviso which read: “Provided that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) under Article 63 of the Constitution … or under any other law for the time being in force”.

The bill moved by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary leader Syed Shibli Faraz was supported by PPP, MQM-P, Jamat e Islami and PML-Q, as it received 49 votes in favour and 18 votes against it.

However, the bill would not be able to bar Nawaz Sharif from holding the party office as it needed to be sailed through the National Assembly where it will be rejected as PML-N holds majority in the lower house.

If the contradiction persists, a joint meeting of both houses will be called to settle the issue and it is evident that the PML-N will secure victory due to its majority in the joint session.

When the amendment was approved, Law and Justice Minister Zahid Hamid opposed the bill highlighting that the controversial law was introduced by military dictators aiming at curbing politicians.

He added that the same had been removed by the government Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1975, but was restored by Pervez Musharraf through Political Party Act 2002. He also refused that the amendment was introduced to facilitate a single person.

Following the disqualification of former premier by the Supreme Court in Panamagate case on July 20, the PML-N tabled the Election bill earlier this month in lower house and got approved with majority. It was made the law with the assent of President Mamnoon Hussain within hours allowing Nawaz Sharif to be re-elected as president of the party.

The Elections Bill 2017 was passed by the Senate on September 22 due to absence of opposition members.

After its approval, a number of petitioner including PPP have already filed pleas with the Supreme Court against the said provision.