ISLAMABAD - Articulating the will to exercise prescribed powers in letter and spirit perhaps for the first time in its history, the Election Commission of Pakistan has decided to say 'no to the government meddling into its affairs and finalised a mechanism for the scrutiny of politicians assets and streamlining political finance. The development surfaced on Thursday during a meeting of the top officials of ECP, FBR, Ministry of Finance, Accountant General Pakistan Revenues (AGPR) and Establishment Division (ED). Despite being an autonomous body, the ECP, according to sources, is dependent on finance ministry, cabinet division, AGPR and related government departments for incurring routine expenditures and for the purchase of official equipments. According to an official notification issued by the finance ministry in the year 2000, ECP enjoys complete autonomy for funds utilisation and allocation within its official budget. On papers, the ECPs chief election commissioner has unchallenged authority, which was never exercised truly, regarding purchasing of official items like vehicles, up-gradation of posts, re-appropriation of funds, nomenclature and official budget as per his decisions. Reportedly during Thursday meeting, the Secretary ECP Ishtiak Ahmed Khan cited the aforesaid official notification and inquired from the officials of the government departments privy to the meeting as to under what authority were they dealing with the ECP administrative issues. The secretary ECP stressed that the ECP had its own rules and it was not subordinated to the federal government. The officials of ED, FBR, finance ministry and AGPR reportedly agreed that the ECP was a completely autonomous body and it could not be administered through official notifications directed to ministries or other government departments. The meeting also finalised a mechanism pertaining to the political finance in pursuance of the decisions taken in April this year. It was mutually decided to form a framework related to electoral expenses, assets verification and the financial budget of the political parties. This newspaper had unearthed in April this year that ECP, FBR and Auditor General were working to devise a mechanism for politicians assets verification. The provisions related to the political finance, particularly those of scrutiny of politicians assets, could only be implemented once approved by the ECP in its high-level meeting. It, however, is still not known as to when the ECP would hold a meeting for this purpose amid strong opposition from mighty politicians. Induction of retired judges of the high courts or those of district and sessions courts in the Election Tribunals was another major decision taken during Thursday meeting. As per meeting decision, only those retired judges of district and sessions courts who were eligible to be judges of HCs, were qualified for appointment in Election Tribunals. Last years electoral amendment in the Representation of People Act, one of the major acts of ECPs Electoral Laws, provides for deciding the electoral petitions within 120 days (four months) of their filing in ECP. According to sources, the serving judges of high courts were finding it difficult to decide the electoral petitions within prescribed time period due to workload. The decision regarding the induction of retired judges was reportedly taken in the light of Judicial Policy 2008 that envisages an end to judiciarys role in ECPs administrative matters. In future, the retired judges would be appointed as judicial officers in parliamentary polls. Till the tenure of the newly elected four ECP members was fixed, the meeting decided to pay salaries to the four former HCs judges on provisional basis. The meeting between government officials agreed on the preparation of an agenda, to be taken up in the next meeting regarding the up-gradation of ECP posts from Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 1 to 20.