Explainer: What Happens To 3 TLP MPAs After Ban On The Group?
After the government decided to declare Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) a banned organisation, it is unclear as to what will be the fate of three TLP members of the Sindh Assembly, one of whom is a candidate in the upcoming NA-249 by-election.
MPAs Muhammad Qasim, Muhammad Younus Soomro and Sarwat Fatima are representing the TLP in the Sindh Assembly.
Sindh Assembly and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) have taken no action after the development, which means they are waiting for the federal government to take the first step in terms of procedural measures to formally ban the group.
Adviser to Sindh chief minister Barrister Murtaza Wahab expressed the hope that the federal government would soon clarify the situation and things will become ‘clearer’. He added that the provincial government, constitutionally, cannot act on its own under such a situation.
Section 212 of the Election Act says: “(1) where the Federal Government 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 declaration.
(2) Within fifteen days of making a declaration under sub-section (1), the Government shall refer the matter to the Supreme Court. (3) where the Supreme Court upholds the declaration made against the political party under sub-section (1), such political party shall stand dissolved forthwith.”
This means that a number of steps are to be taken before the ECP decides on the fate of the three lawmakers of the banned TLP.
After the group is formally declared a banned terrorist organisation, its lawmakers would have the option to distance themselves from the group. This way they can retain their seats in the Sindh Assembly as independent members. But if they fail to do it on their own, the ECP will have the authority to disqualify and de-seat them, after which a by-election on their seats will be held.
It is however unclear at this point as to whether or not the federal government plans to complete the due process and take the necessary steps apart from the initial notification declaring TLP a proscribed organisation.
Can speaker disqualify TLP members?
The provincial assembly speaker, as per the Constitution, can also disqualify the TLP lawmakers, but it requires a conviction from a court. Meaning that if these TLP lawmakers are convicted of a crime by a court, the speaker can use that conviction and the recent ban on the group as grounds for their disqualification.