The Civil Court has ordered the Elections Commission (EC) release funds for both the People’s Party (PP) and the Social Democratic Party following an earlier decision by the EC to withhold the money citing political inactivity.
The EC had contested that the budget was withheld because the two parties were receiving public funds but had not been engaged in political activity “to an adequate level”.
Civil Court judge Maryam Nihayath ruled that it was not within the jurisdiction of the EC to determine whether a political party was working to achieve the goals mentioned in its charter.
The judge ruled that Elections Commission was obliged to distribute the budget allocated for each party according to the Elections Commission Act and that there were no probable grounds to believe that the EC had authority to decide whether or not to deliver the money.
Ruling on the suit filed by PP against the EC, Judge Nihayath ordered the EC deliver the money to the party by Thursday.
The Social Democratic Party also filed a lawsuit against the EC for holding the budget allocated for the party, and the Civil Court ruled in similar fashion, ordering the EC to pay the party by Thursday.
Vice President of the Elections Commission Ahmed Hassan Fayaz told Minivan News that the Commission was studying the legal implications of the decision, before deciding whether to appeal.
“Political parties are allocated a budget [from public funds] and in this case we felt these parties were not doing anything [political], and decided it was time to be proactive and make a decision,” he said.
“In the absence of a law you look to public opinion,” he said. “Public opinion was that these parties were not operating as political parties, but were still receiving money from the Elections Commission.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly stated that the EC had withheld funds from the People’s Alliance Party (PA), rather than the People’s Party (PP). Minivan News regrets the error and apologises for any confusion caused.