LAHORE, Nov 28: Awami Workers’ Party’s (AWP) Abid Hasan Manto has criticised the reported federal cabinet’s decision to raise the election expenses limit for upcoming polls campaigns.

The cabinet set Rs5 million and Rs3 million as expenses ceiling for candidates for National and provincial assembly seats, respectively.

The AWP called the decision against the Representation of Peoples Act of 1976 as its Section 49 sets the limits at Rs1.5 and Rs1 million.

Mr Manto, also a famous constitutional expert, told Dawn on Wednesday he would move the Supreme Court if the government legislated for increasing the election expenses limits.

He said his party had earlier moved the apex court demanding reduction in the existing expenditure ceiling as the segments of society his party represented could take part in the polls because of overuse of money in the process.

He said he regretted that the Election Commission had ignored their stance while framing a new code of conduct for elections though they were party to the petition filed in the Supreme Court on election expenses.

The AWP has written to the Election Commission for fair and free polls through enforcing election expenses limits as directed by the Supreme Court.

To lower electioneering expenses, Mr Manto says he has suggested ban on billboards, streamers and newspaper and TV advertisements in the 60-day election campaign period.

He also refers to the SC judgment that the ECP should consider bans on all permissible activities such as meetings, processions, car rallies, loudspeakers, banners and camps that detract from a level playing field.

Also important is a ban on private transport and election camps on the polling day.

The communiqué dispatched on Nov 24 has also drawn the ECP attention towards the apex court suggestion that the ECP employs personnel of the military and para-military forces in aid of ensuring free and fair elections.

It suggests employing the forces in ensuring strict compliance with all election laws, rules and the code of conduct like monitoring election expenses, door-to-door verification of voters list and all functions at the polling stations. — Staff Reporter

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