Election Bill 2017
A session of the National Assembly was called to debate the amendments to a proposed election law forwarded by the opposition parties.
The government rejected a suggestion to set the maximum duration of disqualification under Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution to five years.
This was suggested after noting that there was no explicit duration for disqualification set under the current law, therefore the duration of disqualification should be less than five years.
The National Assembly, during the session, voted its approval for the Election Bill 2017.
According to the Bill, the President of Pakistan will have to consult the Election Commission of Pakistan before announcing a date for the general elections.
Under the proposed law, the Election Commission of Pakistan will be under an obligation to submit an annual report of its performance to the government that will be presented to the National as well as Provincial Assemblies.
Highlights of the proposed law are as follows:
- The Election Commission of Pakistan will have the authority to take necessary action against the polling staff for negligence.
- The surety of any candidate, who receives less than one-fourth of the total votes, will be confiscated.
- The Election Commission of Pakistan will no longer have the authority to make changes in the nomination papers of the candidates.
- The candidates will now have twenty-eight (28) days instead of twenty-one (21) days for running their election campaign.
- The votes of both male and female voters will be counted separately in the general elections.
- A limit will be imposed on the budget spent on campaigning by the political parties.
- The returning officers will not have the authority to publish extra ballot papers.
- Lawmakers will be required to submit wealth statements every year.
- Anyone who intimidates or harms the staff of the Election Commission of Pakistan will have to pay a fine of Rs. 0.1 million or will be sent to jail for a period of two years.
- Anyone who takes pictures of the ballot papers or shows their vote to others will face similar punishment.
- Every political party will have to hold intra-party elections every five years.
- Differently-abled people will be able to cast their vote through postal service.
- Election tribunals will comprise of serving judges instead of retired ones.
The National Assembly concluded the debate on the proposed election law, during which the opposition parties raised objections to various clauses of the Bill.
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