Chapter VIII: Election expenses and statement of assets and liabilities

132. Restriction on election expenses

(1) The election expenses of a candidate shall include the expenses incurred by any person or a political party on behalf of the candidate or incurred by a political party specifically for the candidate.

(2) Where any person incurs any election expenses on behalf of a candidate, whether for stationery, postage, advertisement, transport or for any other item, such expenses shall be deemed to be the election expenses incurred by the candidate himself.

(3) The election expenses of a contesting candidate shall not exceed

 (a) Rs1.5 million for election to a seat in the Senate; 

  (b) Rs4m for election to a seat in the National Assembly; and 

 (c) Rs2m for election to a seat in a Provincial Assembly. 

(4) A candidate shall, through bills, receipts and other documents, vouch for every payment made in respect of election expenses, except where the amount is less than Rs1,000.

In order to develop a better understanding of the permissions given by the Election Commission of Pakistan to candidates for spending on their election campaigns, we reproduce below Chapter VIII from the Elections Act 2017

(5) If election expenses of a candidate are disputed, the Commission may conduct an enquiry to ascertain whether the election expenses, incurred by any person other than the candidate, were incurred with his permission and if the expenses were incurred without his permission, it would not be deemed to be election expenses on behalf of the candidate.

133. Bank account for election expenses

(1) For purposes of his election expenses, a candidate shall open an exclusive account with any branch of a scheduled bank before the date fixed for scrutiny of nomination papers and maintain, or cause to be maintained, a register of receipts and expenditures.

(2) A candidate shall not make any transaction towards the election expenses through an account other than the account opened for the purpose.

(3) A candidate may open the bank account for election expenses with an amount not exceeding the limit of election expenses provided under section 132. 134.

134. Return of election expenses

(1) A contesting candidate, other than the returned candidate, shall submit the return of his election expenses on Form C within thirty days of the publication of the name of the returned candidate.

(2) The return of election expenses of the returned candidate and a contesting candidate shall be submitted to the Returning Officer on Form C. 135.

135. Inspection of returns

(1) Immediately on receipt, the returns and documents submitted under section 134, shall be sent by the Returning Officer to the Commission and shall, for a period of one year from the date of receipt by it, be open to inspection by any person on payment of the prescribed fee.

(2) The Commission shall, on an application made in this behalf and on payment of the prescribed fee, give any person copies of any return or document or any part thereof kept under sub-section (1). 136.

136. Action relating to election expenses

(1) The Commission shall, in accordance with such procedure as may be prescribed but within ninety days from the date of submission of a return of election expenses, scrutinise or cause to be scrutinised the return of election expenses submitted by each contesting candidate including the returned candidate.

(2) If the Commission fails to finalise scrutiny of any return of election expenses within ninety days under sub-section (1), the return of election expenses shall be deemed to be scrutinised and accepted as correct.

(3) Where after scrutiny of returns under sub-section (1), the Commission is of the view that a candidate has acted in contravention of the provisions of section 132, the Commission shall direct an authorised officer to file a complaint against such candidate for committing the offence of corrupt practice.

(4) Where a contesting candidate fails to file requisite returns within the specified period, the Returning Officer shall cause a notice to be issued to such candidate calling upon him to show cause why proceedings may not be initiated against him for failure to file requisite returns; and if despite service of notice, he does not comply with the provisions of section 134, the Returning Officer shall report the matter to the Commission.

(5) On receipt of report under sub-section (4), the Commission shall issue notice calling upon the candidate to show cause as to why a complaint may not be filed against him for failure to file requisite returns.

(6) The candidate may file an application for condonation of delay in filing the returns along with the return and the Commission may condone the delay, if it is satisfied that such failure was made in good faith due to circumstances beyond the control of the candidate, and accept the return.

(7) In case of rejection of application for condonation of delay under sub-section (6), the Commission shall direct an authorised officer to file a complaint against such candidate for committing the offence of illegal practice.

137. Submission of statement of assets and liabilities

(1) Every Member of an Assembly and Senate shall submit to the Commission, on or before 31 December each year, a copy of his statement of assets and liabilities including assets and liabilities of his spouse and dependent children as on the preceding thirtieth day of June on Form B.

(2) The Commission, on the first day of January each year through a press release, shall publish the names of Members who failed to submit the requisite statement of assets and liabilities within the period specified under subsection (1).

(3) The Commission shall, on the sixteenth day of January, by an order suspend the membership of a Member of an Assembly and Senate who fails to submit the statement of assets and liabilities by the fifteenth day of January and such Member shall cease to function till he files the statement of assets and liabilities.

(4) Where a Member submits the statement of assets and liabilities under this section which is found to be false in material particulars, he may, within one hundred and twenty days from the date submission of the statement, be proceeded against for committing the offence of corrupt practice.

138. Publication of statement of assets and liabilities

The Commission shall publish in the official Gazette the statements of assets and liabilities received by it under section 137 and any person may obtain copies of a statement of assets and liabilities on payment of prescribed fee.

Published in Dawn, The Business and Finance Weekly, July 23rd, 2018