NA secretariat not to collect affidavits
ISLAMABAD: In what may be the beginning of another round of confrontation between the legislature and the judiciary, the National Assembly Secretariat has refused to carry out the Election Commission’s directive to obtain declarations from members of the house affirming that they do not hold any foreign nationality.
According to sources, the commission had sent letters to the secretaries of the Senate and the national and provincial assemblies on Sept 24 in pursuance of a Supreme Court order, asking them to obtain fresh declarations from the members that they did not hold dual nationality.
Stating that there was no provision in the rules of business for obtaining declarations about dual nationality from members, the National Assembly Secretariat advised the Election Commission to get the documents directly from members of the house.
An official said the response might be deemed as an indirect refusal to implement the court’s order.
He said the ‘contemptuous’ letter would be put before the commission for consideration.
He said the commission’s letter had referred to the court order.
The Election Commission itself enjoyed the power to try someone for contempt, he added.
He said the secretaries of the houses of parliament and provincial assemblies had been given two weeks to submit the declarations which all the lawmakers were required to attest before them.
The official said the draft of the affidavit had also been sent along with the letter.
The Election Commission had earlier written letters to the secretaries of the Senate, the National Assembly, the provincial assemblies and the ministries of interior, foreign affairs and overseas Pakistanis on Aug 29, seeking details within 15 days about legislators holding dual nationality.
That time too, the National Assembly and Senate secretariats had given almost the same reply.
They pointed out that the commission collected nomination papers and declarations from the candidates at the time of elections and maintained the record after scrutiny.
The Balochistan Assembly also said it had no record of dual nationality of lawmakers. The provincial assemblies of Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the three ministries did not reply to the letter.
The Punjab Assembly Secretariat said the members had been asked to provide the information within 10 days.
The 15-day period lapsed on Sept 13 and reminders were sent the following day.
A full bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, in its short order in the dual nationality case issued on Sept 20 asked the Election Commission to examine the cases of legislators individually by obtaining fresh declarations on oath from all of them that they were not disqualified under Article 63(1c) of the Constitution.
Eleven lawmakers belonging to the PML-N, PPP and MQM were disqualified.
REMINDER: The Election Commission reminded all the parliamentarians and members of the provincial assemblies on Tuesday about the requirement to submit the fresh declarations.
It asked all lawmakers to obtain the prescribed declarations form the respective secretariats and sign them in presence of the secretaries concerned who were required to send them to the commission by Oct 9.