The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) outlined several changes to election rules on Saturday, according to which candidates will be required to operate a separate bank account for poll expenses.
The development comes a day after the ECP announced that elections would be held in the last week of January but did not specify a date. The time frame also exceeds the Nov 6 cut-off date suggested by President Arif Alvi by more than two months.
In a notification released today, the ECP detailed several changes to the Election Rules, 2017 and invited political parties to file their objections or suggestions by October 7.
The notification, dated September 22, was uploaded to the ECP’s website.
“The present situation so warrants and it is expedient to carry out further amendments in Rules 51, 52(3), 56(3), 66(4), 71(2), 84(4), 85(2), 87(2), 134(1), 134(2), 134(2A), 134A, 137(1), 143(1), 143(4), 158(1), 158(3), 161(1), Form41(g), Form41(h)(ii), Form 67, Form 68, and Annexures, and Form 69,” the notification reads.
The following are among the salient changes proposed by the commission in the Election Rules:
Rule 51 (nomination paper):
Candidates will have to open an exclusive bank account or dedicate an existing account already opened with a scheduled bank to maintain the transactions of election expenses.
They will also attach the bank account statement beginning with entries seven days prior to the election schedule with the nomination papers for election to an assembly or the Senate.
Further, the bank account opened or dedicated should not be a joint signatory account.
Rule 52-3 (deposit for nomination):
The sum deposited by a candidate under Section 61 will be nonrefundable and will be deposited in the government treasury. Thus, sub-rule 4 of Rule 52 stands omitted.
Rule 56-3 (list of contesting candidates):
The returning officer (RO) will publish the list of contesting candidates with their respective symbols at some conspicuous place in his office and furnish a copy to the contesting candidates, district election commissioner, provincial election commissioner and to the ECP, which will upload it for display on its website.
Rule 66-4 (issue of postal ballot papers):
After ballot papers have been issued to all voters, the RO will place all the counterfoils of postal ballot papers in one or more packets, sign and seal the same and record on the packet(s) a brief description of its contents, the number of counterfoils contained, the name of the constituency and the date of sealing.
If the cover does not reach the RO before the poll day, the vote will not be counted.
Rule 84-4 (announcement of provisional results):
If the results are incomplete by 2am on the day immediately following the polling day for any reason, the RO will communicate the provisional results consolidated till that time to the ECP along with reasons for the delay, in writing, while listing the polling stations from which results are awaited and thereafter will send the complete provisional results as soon as compiled but not later than 10am.
Rule 85-2 (consolidation of results):
Before consolidating the results, the RO will in the presence of the contesting candidates and one of their election agents duly authorised by the candidate, as may be present, open packet 2 containing the ballot papers excluded from the count by the presiding officer and also the packet-6 and packet-9 containing, respectively, the tendered ballot papers and challenged ballot papers excluded from the count and scrutinise each such ballot paper as was excluded from the count.
Rule 134-1 (account of election expenses):
A candidate will maintain a register of receipts and payments (cashbook), record/details of bills, invoices, deliveries challans, receipts, acknowledgements and vouchers in support of every payment made in respect of election expenses.
The contesting candidate and a returned candidate will submit to the RO the details of election expenses in Form C as well as the details of election expenses and the details of campaign finance in Forms 67 and 68.
Provided that if a candidate permits a person to incur election expenses on their behalf, the candidate will abide by the code of conduct and also maintain the record/details of election expenses incurred for their election campaign by that person showing their name, copies of identity documents, types of expenses incurred, source of income of the person, address and phone number.
The ECP will reconcile the total sum of expenses recorded in Forms C, 67 and 68 within the permissible limit of the election expenses of the returned candidate.
Rule 143-1 (case management):
On the filing of a reply by the respondent, the Election Tribunal may, with the consent of the parties, fix a time schedule for trial and disposal of the petition within a 180-day period from the date of filing of the petition till the announcement of the final judgment in the case.
Rule 158-1 (submission of certificate to the commission regarding intra-party elections)
The party leader of each political party under their signature will issue a schedule of the intra-party election and inform the ECP 15 days before the conduct of the intra-party election.
Further, within seven days of the completion of intraparty elections, the party leader will submit a certificate to the ECP in Form-65 specifying that the intra-party elections were held in accordance with the party’s constitution and the provisions of the Elections Act along with a report covering the following aspects:
- The political party will submit a detailed report on the conduct of intra-party elections to the ECP within seven days of the completion of intra-party elections.
- The party will provide a voter list and details of voter- verification mechanisms used to ensure that only eligible members participated in the intra-party election.
- The report will outline the procedures followed during the election, including nomination processes, eligibility criteria for candidates, voting methods, vote-counting mechanisms, and dispute resolution procedures.
- The party will make the intra-party election report publicly available, either on its website or by providing copies to interested stakeholders.
The fine imposed by the ECP on the political party will be deposited in the government treasury.