Controversy Of A Missing Proviso – Elections Act 2017
The promulgation of the Elections Act 2017 has given birth to a controversy in relation to the (repealed) proviso to Section 5(1) of the Political Parties Order 2002, which reads as follows:
“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 Majlise- Shoora (Parliament) under Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan or under any other law for the time being in force.”
The proviso served as criteria for being eligible to be appointed as an office-bearer of a political party. It referred to Article 63 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973 which declares a person to be disqualified from being, elected or chosen as member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament), inter alia, for the following:
- being of unsound mind,
- being an undischarged insolvent,
- ceasing to be a citizen of Pakistan or acquiring citizenship of a foreign state
- holding an office of profit in the service of Pakistan,
- convicted for an act prejudicial to the ideology, sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan,
- dismissed, removed or compulsorily retired from the service of Pakistan,
- convicted of an offence involving moral turpitude, or sentenced to imprisonment for a term of not less than two years.
The Elections Act 2017 has consolidated laws relating to the conduct of elections. Section 203 of the Election Act 2017 was supposed to be the same as was available in the Political Parties Order 2002. There was no justification for removing the barrier contained in the proviso to Section 5(1) of the Political Parties Order 2002. By omitting to insert the above proviso in the Election Act 2017, Parliament has lifted the barrier for a person of ‘unsound mind’ to be an office-bearer of a political party. A convict of an act prejudicial to the ideology, sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan can also take part in the active politics by holding an office of a political party. A person dismissed from service for misconduct aslo seems to be qualified to hold the office of a political party.
Article 63 A of the Constitution relates to the disqualification of a candidate on the ground of defection. An office bearer of a political party is vested powers under Article 63 A. A person convicted for an act prejudicial to the ideology, sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan can hold strings of a political party (even a ruling party) and turn towards a destructive direction. A person, who is otherwise not qualified to be a servant of the State, may not be allowed to exercise such constitutional powers.
The Elections (Amendment) Act 2017 came forth after a situation which necessitated the amendment. No such justification is available for omitting to insert a time-tested provision of law into a statute. Legislation obviously is a power delegated to the Parliament by the people of Pakistan. This authority is a sacred trust. Parliament cannot exercise the authority in a manner which will have an adverse effect on the future of the people of Pakistan.
The Political Parties Act 1962 and the Political Parties Order 2002 had determined the criteria for a person to become an office-bearer of a political party. Omitting such criteria has obviously created a vacuum. We need perfect leaders who are above matters whereby no one can question their sincerity, honesty and ability. Democratic systems never lack brilliant leaders. Obviously, the one disqualified within the meaning of the (repealed) proviso to Section 5(1) of the Political Parties Order 2002 never deserves to be a leader of the nation. We need to follow strict criteria. We are not at the stage of experiments. We cannot afford disastrous consequences of failed experiments.
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