ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has decided to constitute monitoring teams and appoint district coordination officers or equivalent officers (such as deputy commissioners or political agents in tribal areas) as district monitoring officers for the coming general elections in the country.

The decision was taken by the commission at a meeting held here on Friday with Chief Election Commissioner retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza in the chair.

For the general elections 2013 the ECP had also constituted such monitoring teams in all districts across the country to keep an eye on poll campaigns and check any violation of laws, although there was no legal backing for them at that time.

Now the Elections Act 2017 provides a legal cover to the concept of monitoring teams and explains in clear terms how these teams will operate and report any violations by contesting candidates and political parties.

An official of the ECP said that the monitoring teams and district monitoring officers would be in place before announcement of the election schedule in the last week of this month.

Section 234(1) of the Elections Act reads: “The Commission shall constitute a monitoring team consisting of such number of persons as may be determined by it, to monitor election campaign of the candidates and political parties and report, on regular basis in the prescribed manner, to an officer nominated by the Commission in respect of each district for the purpose of deciding the complaints regarding any violation by a candidate or a political party of any provision of the Act, Rules or the Code of Conduct issued by the Commission”.

The official said that under sub-section 2, it was for the commission to constitute a monitoring team for a constituency or a group of constituencies and determined their terms of reference.

He said that under sub-section 3, the district monitoring officer on receiving report of any violation of the law would hold a summary inquiry, and on confirmation would impose fine not exceeding Rs50,000 for no other punishment for such violation in provided under the act.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2018