The Lahore High Court ruled on Thursday that the ECP lacked the authority to dismiss lawmakers for filing fake wealth declarations.

The court ruled in a challenge brought by Mian Tariq Mehmood, an MPA from Gujrat, that the ECP lacks the authority to remove a member of parliament based on a private complaint under Articles 62(1)(f) and 63. According to Articles 62(1)(f) and 63, the ECP pronounced Mr. Mehmood ineligible to serve as a member of Parliament in 2019.

With his attorney, Mr. Jahanzeb Sukhera, Mr. Mehmood contested the ECP’s decision. Mr. Sukhera had contended that the courts alone had the authority to oust a legislator for submitting a fake declaration of assets and that the ECP lacks any such authority. Moreover, Mr. Sukhera had contended that the ECP lacked the authority to begin the disqualification process against a legislator based on a request made by a private individual.

He said that the Constitution only permits the ECP to disqualify a legislator in extremely specific circumstances, and even then only when a referral is brought to it by the Speaker or Chairman of the Senate.

The petition was accepted by Mr. Judge Shahid Karim, who ruled that the ECP must decide before beginning any investigation if it has the authority to consider the subject and that it must abstain and not continue if it does not. The court’s ruling also said that the ECP cannot unilaterally increase its authority.

The ex-prime minister Imran Khan’s legal actions contesting the ECP’s decision to disqualify him in the Toshakhana reference filed by PDM members are likely to be impacted by this decision. The ruling of the ECP is now being contested in the high courts of Islamabad and Lahore.

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