Lahore/islamabad - The Election Commission on Monday suspended the membership of 261 lawmakers, creating a momentary crisis for national and provincial assemblies where quorum remains a persistent problem due to lack of interest in legislative process on part of the public representatives.

Their membership has been suspended for failure to submit details of their finances under sub-section 42A of the Representation of People Act (RoPA) by the Sept 30 deadline.

The list included seven senators, 71 MNAs, 84 MPAs from Punjab, 50 from Sindh, 38 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 11 from Balochistan.

Among the suspended members are ruling PML-N’s Captain Safdar, PTI’s estranged MNA Ayesha Gulalai, State Minister for Interior Talal Chaudhry, Religious Affairs Minister Sardar Yousaf and former National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza.

The number of suspensions this year (261) is quite high but is less than that of the past year when 336 lawmakers were suspended by the ECP for non-submission of financial statements.

An ECP notification named the suspended lawmakers who, it said, “have failed to file their statements of assets and liabilities” for themselves, their spouses and their dependants. It said they “shall cease to function as such members with immediate effect and till such statements are submitted by them”.

In terms of percentage, the greatest proportion of suspended lawmakers came from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly, as 30.7 percent of them defaulted on filing of assets statements. KP Assembly was followed by Sindh Assembly (29.7pc), Punjab Assembly (22.6pc), National Assembly (20.7pc), Balochistan Assembly (16.9pc) and Senate (6.7pc).

RoPA was introduced in 2002 by the then military ruler General Pervez Musharraf, but it has been flouted at will by politicians, who allege that it has several flaws and has failed to motivate any meaningful accountability – which was the basic spirit of the legislation.

Under this law, all parliamentarians are required to submit to the election commission the details of their own assets, and that of their spouses and children.

“Every member shall, on a form prescribed under clause (f) of sub-section (2) of Section 12, submit a Statements of Assets & Liabilities of his own, his spouse and dependents annually to the Commission by the thirtieth day of September each year,” according to Section 42A of the RoPA.

It further says: “The Statements of Assets and Liabilities submitted under sub-section (1) shall be published in the official Gazette and copies thereof may be obtained on payment of prescribed fee.

“The Commission shall, by the fifteenth day of October each year, notify the names of the members who fail to file Statements of Assets & Liabilities within the period specified in sub-section (1) and by an order, direct that such member shall cease to function till such statement is submitted.

“Where a member submits the Statements of Assets and Liabilities under sub-section (1) which is found to be false in material particulars, he may be proceeded against under Section 82 for committing the offence of corrupts practice.”