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What’s with the affidavit and why do politicians not want to fill it for the elections?

SAMAA | - Posted: Jun 20, 2018 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
Posted: Jun 20, 2018 | Last Updated: 3 years ago

Everyone has been talking about the affidavit. We know a number of politicians who want to stand in the election are in trouble because of this affidavit.

Many of them didn’t submit the affidavits or gave in incomplete ones to the ECP.

To start with, what’s in the affidavit?

In it, you have to declare to the election commission the following information:

  • Businesses you and your dependents own
  • Your dependents
  • Money you owe
  • Trips you have taken abroad and how much they cost
  • Criminal cases against you
  • Taxes you paid in the last three years
  • Your net assets

The election commission also wants to know:

  • If you were an elected representative, what were the contributions you made for the benefit of your constituency
  • Money you paid your political party and money it paid you
  • Allowing the Foreign Office to request information about your from countries where you held citizenship or applied for citizenship

When, during a June 5 hearing, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar asked why politicians were shying away from providing the affidavits, former National Assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq said the information being requested was “unnecessary”.

Submitting the forms is mandatory under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution, which list the qualifications of members of parliament.

Senior editor Abul Hasanat explains why the affidavit is such a big deal:

The affidavit is crucial as it can land candidates in trouble.

In the last election, all the information that is now being sought in the affidavit was part of the nomination forms. After the election, parliament changed the forms and deleted certain clauses–for example, how a candidate discloses dual nationality. Later on, though, the Lahore High Court ruled that parliament’s decision to make this change went against the Constitution and was illegal.

The Lahore High Court judgment came at a time when the process of holding these elections had already begun. There was no parliament to fix the nomination forms now as the government had wrapped up its tenure. Now we had an “illegal” nomination form that did not have some important clauses. So something had to be done.

This is when the Supreme Court stepped in with a solution. It fixed the incomplete nomination form by making it mandatory for all candidates to submit an additional document: an affidavit. This extra paperwork would ensure transparency and accountability and, at the same time, avoid postponing the elections.

The Constitution empowers the court to interpret the law. If the court finds that any law goes against the Constitution, it can nullify (cancel it) or send it to parliament (our law-making institution) to be fixed.

The affidavit makes candidates answerable to the Supreme Court now. If a candidate is caught lying or withholding information in the affidavit, they can be held in contempt of court and action can be taken against them. If they are caught doing the same thing in the nomination forms, the Election Commission will deal with them.

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