MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Abdul Rashid Sulehria on Thursday announced that elections for Legislative Assembly will be held on July 25.

Announcing the election schedule at a presser, he asserted that his institution would leave no stone unturned to conduct the election in a free, fair and impartial manner.

The Election Commission (EC) members, Raja Farooq Niaz and Farhat Ali Mir were also present in the press conference.

Of the 45 direct seats of the assembly, 33 are located in AJK territory and 12 in Pakistan, he said.

The commission would seek the army’s assistance to ensure law and order during elections. However, in case the army personnel are not available, civilian armed forces and paramilitary troops would be called for the purpose in addition to the AJK police personnel, responded Mr Niaz to a question.

Of elections in 12 constituencies in Pakistan, he said the officers of the Election Commission of Pakistan would be placed at the disposal of the AJK EC to be appointed as District Returning Officers (DROs) and Returning Officers (ROs).

The CEC declared that after the announcement of the schedule the government could not make any fresh appointments or transfers or announce or execute new development schemes.

However, in unavoidable cases it will have to seek prior permission from the EC, he said.

Schedule

According to the schedule, nomination papers will be filed by the candidates before the ROs on or before June 21 till 4pm. But before filing their papers, the candidates will be required to submit details of their moveable and immoveable assets and income and obtain its receipt from the commission.

Scrutiny of nominations will be conducted on the following day from 8am onward and lists of validly nominated candidates will be published by the ROs the same evening.

Aggrieved persons could file appeals against the acceptance or rejection of nomination papers by the ROs before the EC by 2pm on June 27 and the hearings of appeals will be held on June 28-29 while decisions will be announced on June 30 and July 1.

Candidates could withdraw their nominations by July 2, and lists of contesting candidates will be published on the following day.

Election symbols to the parties and candidates will be allotted on July 4 before 2pm and the final list of contesting candidates with election symbols will be published on the same day while polling will be held on July 25 from 8am to 5pm.

The CEC also unveiled a 16 page ‘code of conduct’ for the political parties, candidates and their polling agents, envisaging strict adherence to the legal and constitutional requirements and other guidelines.

Mr Sulehria made it clear that no candidate, including the AJK premier, speaker, deputy speaker and ministers, would be allowed to use official resources, particularly official vehicles, for election campaign or else they could be disqualified from contesting elections and the vehicle concerned would be confiscated.

This condition would also apply to the visiting government functionaries from Pakistan, including the prime minister of Pakistan, federal ministers, advisers and special assistants, he declared.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2021

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