Govt needs Supreme Court's endorsement to dissolve the group
Pakistan has banned the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, following violent protests that erupted after the arrest of its leader Saad Hussain Rizvi in Lahore on Monday.
Since the TLP is a political party which secured over 2.2 million votes in the 2018 elections and has three members in the Sindh assembly, the government’s ban on the politico-religious group isn’t enough to dissolve it.
The Election Act, 2017 allows the federal government to ban a political party under Section 212 (1) if it is “satisfied on the basis of a reference from the Commission or information received from any other source that a political party is a foreign-aided political party or has been formed or is operating in a manner prejudicial to the sovereignty or integrity of Pakistan or is indulging in terrorism, the government shall, by a notification in the official gazette, make such a declaration.”
The government is, however, bound to refer the matter to the Supreme Court within 15 days of issuing a notification to ban the political party.
If the Supreme Court upholds the government’s decision, the political party will be “dissolved”, according to the Elections Act, 2017.
Reema Omer, a lawyer and a legal adviser for the International Commission of Jurists, told SAMAA Digital that the “correct procedure” to ban political parties is the Election Act.
“The dissolution should have happened first,” Omer said. It is very odd that the government banned the TLP first and now it will move for its dissolution, according to her.
The move to ban the TLP was the government’s unilateral decision.
Lahore-based lawyer Asad Jamal says the Supreme Court will also issue notices to the TLP chief or its lawmakers to explain their side of the story, when the government files a reference.
The court will review the government’s decision and it is called judicial review of the executive action, according to Jamal. The government will have to gather evidence against the TLP and satisfy the court.
“Terrorism itself is an independent ground to ban a political party,” he told SAMAA Digital. “The government will have to prove that whatever the TLP has been doing falls under the scope of terrorism under the ATA.”
But the government has to do it under the Elections Act, 2017 because the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 isn’t enough to dissolve a political party, he believes.
The three TLP members of the Sindh Assembly will be disqualified for their remaining term, if the Supreme Court upholds the government’s decision and the party is dissolved under Section 212(1) of the Election Act.
The Election Commission of Pakistan will issue a notification disqualifying the lawmakers.
Muhammad Younus Soomro, one of the three TLP MPAs, told SAMAA Digital that he would accept the Supreme Court’s decision if it disqualifies him.
Asked what he would do if he was given a choice either to remain an MPA or a party worker, he said he doesn’t hold any office in the party and will discuss the matter with his lawyer.
“I contested the election on the TLP ticket but I don’t agree with its current policy of sit-ins and protests,” Soomro said.