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Voting against party policy or crossing floor: ECP says takes decision only after asked by NA speaker

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday said that it is empowered to take a decision only after receiving a declaration from the National Assembly speaker about the members voting against party policy or crossing floor.

The ECP explained that the National Assembly speaker acts as the presiding officer in the election of the prime minister and in the no-confidence motion, adding that the statements against the ECP regarding horse-trading and floor crossing are baseless.

The ECP statement said that in case of floor crossing, the party chief would send a declaration against the member concerned to the speaker and the speaker would send the declaration to the National Assembly Election Commission. It pointed out that the ECP will take action on the declaration received from the speaker in accordance with the Constitution and law. After receiving the declaration at the floor crossing, the work of the election commission will begin. The ECP suggested that the government may, if it so desires, amend the law to empower the ECP in this regard.

Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain along with other federal ministers had said in a press conference on Wednesday: ‘We condemn the sale and purchase of members and I would like to tell the Election Commission of Pakistan that PMLN leader Javed Latif has said on record that he is doing horse trading.” He charged that it seems that the commission is only seeing the PTI while no action is being taken against the PMLN.

Under Articles 218 (1) and 219 of the Constitution of Pakistan, it is the responsibility of the commission to conduct the Majlis-e-Shura (parliament), provincial assemblies, local governments and other elections as specified in the law. Conducting the election of the president of Pakistan is the responsibility of the commission in accordance with Article 41 (3) and Second Schedule of the Constitution, the statement said.

According to Article 91 (4) of the Constitution, the procedure for the election of the prime minister has been given. Further, the no-confidence motion against the prime minister is to be taken under Article 95 of the Constitution. In accordance with the provisions of the Constitution and Rules of Business, it is made clear that the commission has nothing to do with the election of the prime minister and no-confidence motion. The National Assembly speaker, in his capacity as the presiding officer, conducts all proceedings of this election and the no-confidence motion.

Thus, Article 63 (A) of the Constitution provides for the procedure of deviation due to incompetence of the members of parliament. According to this article, the party head will make a written declaration regarding the deviation of the member concerned and a copy will be sent to the presiding officer and the chief election commissioner. Moreover, before announcing the deviation, the party chief will give an opportunity to the member concerned to be listened. Then the presiding officer (speaker of the National Assembly) within two days will send a declaration to the chief election commissioner and if he does not do so within two days, it will be deemed that the declaration of deviation has been received by the chief election commissioner. The role of the Election Commission of Pakistan will begin then.

“If the ECP is empowered through necessary legislation to conduct the election of the prime minister and the no-confidence motion and the necessary powers are delegated, the commission is capable of performing this duty. The commission is well aware of the issues and matters on which it has powers and is carrying out its functions in an efficient manner in accordance with the Constitution and the law,” the commission said.

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