ECP drafts reforms to curb poll rigging
24 January, 2013
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday approved draft of electoral reforms for effective legislation to curb rigging in the upcoming general elections and ensure transparency and credibility of the polls.
The commission, at its meeting, decided to enhance monetary penalty for illegal and corrupt practices besides increasing the nomination fee for the candidates of National and provincial assemblies.
"Draft reforms package will be sent to Law Division for proper legislation," ECP Director General (Elections) DG Sher Afgan informed the media a news conference.
He said the commission also approved registration of 11 new political parties while elections symbols were allotted to 16 already registered parties, including the party of Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Earlier, during its meeting chaired by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakharuddin G Ibrahim, the ECP decided to increase the nomination fee for the National Assembly (NA) candidates from Rs 4,000 to Rs 50,000 and for provincial assemblies (PAs) candidates from Rs 2,000 to Rs 25,000.
The Special Committee of the Senate on Election Issues has already agreed to the proposal and after the approval of the commission, it will be sent to parliament for simple legislation.
The commission also decided to increase the fine money for corrupt practices to Rs 100,000 from existing Rs 5,000.
These practices include impersonation, capturing of polling stations, bribery to voters and election staff and intimidation etc. Imprisonment for such violations will continue to be three years.
Moreover, a proposal has also been adopted to make Code of Conduct part of the Representation of the People Act and the candidates will have to face a penalty of Rs 100,000 for violation of the provisions of the code like holding of processions, banners, posters, billboards and other provisions of the code.
"For all these provisions, legislation would be required and the draft of reforms is being sent to Law Division for necessary legislation through parliament," the DG (Elections) told the media.
The commission's meeting also discussed the issue of dual nationality and noted that 12 dual nationality holder parliamentarians had already been disqualified while 16 had resigned.
As no action was taken against those who had resigned, the commission decided to submit the list of all 28 parliamentarians with the Supreme Court for further action.
Regarding a letter of Abid Hassan Minto about implementation of the Supreme Court decision, the commission discussed his proposals like compulsory voting, clear majority formula and Run of Election; and None Of The Above (NOTA) mechanism in vote casting. The commission decided to send these proposals to Law Division for its consideration to legislate on these issues.
Abid Hassan Minto had drawn the attention of the commission towards non-implementation of these provisions.
Explaining these provisions, an official of the commission told APP that the provision of clear majority means that in general elections where none of the candidates secures more than 50% votes, a Run of Election should be held in such constituencies.
With regard to compulsory voting, Manto had proposed to create a blank column on the ballot paper for marking by the voters who do not like any of the candidates mentioned on the ballot papers.
In such cases, as in vogue in some countries, if the blank column is marked more times than the names of the contesting candidates, then it means the voters in such a constituency like none of the candidates and re-polling could be considered over there.
According to the DG (Elections), all these steps needed proper legislation. Therefore, it was decided to send these to the Law Division and whatever legislation, the parliament will make, the commission will implement it.