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Law Minister called for amending articles 62,63 of constitution

23 August, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Law Minister Zahid Hamid on Tuesday called for amending articles 62 and 63 of the constitution, during the National Assembly session.

The NA committee responsible for electoral reforms will recommend amendments to articles 62 and 63, said Hamid. The law minister added that Article 62 should be amended to specify a time period for disqualification of a parliamentarian, adding that the disqualification period should be less than five years.

Earlier, the National Assembly adopted the Election Bill 2017 while incorporating more than 40 out of total 105 amendments moved by the opposition members in different clauses of the bill.

The National Assembly, which resumed its session in Islamabad on Tuesday, started clause-by-clause consideration on the said bill and adopted 155 consensus clauses of the bill.

The reforms proposed in the bill include financial and administrative autonomy for the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The ECP will have the authority to take action against polling staff for negligence, anyone who intimidates or harms the ECP staff will have to pay a fine of Rs 0.1 million or will be sent to jail for two years, the Election tribunals will comprise serving judges instead of retired ones.

The bill also limits some powers of the ECP, which will improve the transparency of next general elections. For instance, the ECP will no longer have the authority to make any changes to nomination papers of the candidates and returning officers will not have the authority to publish extra ballot papers.

The bill envisages that citizens getting Computerised National Identity Cards from NADRA would automatically become voters. Differently able people will be allowed to cast their vote through postal service.

Maximum limit of election expenses has been rationalised in this bill and new limits for expenses are Rs 1.5 million for election to a seat of Senate; Rs 4 million for a seat of National Assembly and Rs 2 million for a seat of provincial assembly.

To ensure women empowerment the bill bounded the political parties to allot at least five percent tickets against general seats to female candidates. The votes of male and female citizens will be counted separately in the general elections.

The candidates will now have 28 instead of 21 days for running the election campaign. The bail of any candidate, who receives less than one-fourth of the total votes, will be confiscated.

The bill enables the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct pilot project for utilisation of electronic voting machines and biometric verification and voting by overseas Pakistanis.

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