• Rules proposed to address evolving scenarios
• Parties can file objections till October 7
• Candidates required to open separate bank accounts for election expenses
• Changes in postal ballot handling • Stringent requirements for candidate’s financial disclosure

ISLAMABAD: In a belated exercise, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has proposed as many as 18 amendments to the election rules in line with the amendments to the Elections Act introduced by the previous PML-N-led coalition government.

The commission has invited objections to the proposed changes till October 7 and will later hold hearing to make a final decision.

A notification issued by the ECP explains that various amendments have been made to the election commission rules in accordance with the law to address various scenarios and problems that arise over time.

According to the notification, the candidate will have to open a separate bank account for election expenses or allocate the existing account, while the joint account of the candidate participating in the election will not be acceptable.

Returning officers (ROs) will provide results to candidates at the respective district election commission office. Likewise, the rules related to postal ballot have also been changed. Postal ballots will be sealed in separate packets and sent to the respective ROs. If the postal ballot is not received by the relevant RO before the election day, the votes will not be included in the count.

According to the proposed changes to the rules, the RO will hand over the results in the presence of candidates, and the RO will compile and seal forms 47, 48, 49 for the results. The candidate will be obliged to provide complete details of election expenses and financial expenditure on the election campaign. According to the proposed rules, candidates will be obliged to open a separate bank account before submitting the nomination papers.

The petition related to the election can be filed along with a fee of Rs100,000, which will be decided in 180 days. Similarly, a fine of Rs10,000 to Rs50,000 will be imposed for seeking adjournment during the hearing.

Also, political parties would be required to share intra-party polls schedule with the ECP 15 days before the election, the ECP notifiication said. Under the proposed rules, political parties will have to submit details after seven days of the intra-party election.

The nomination fee will be non-refundable, and the amount will be deposited in the government treasury.

According to the ECP, if another person spends money on the election campaign of a candidate, the candidate will also need to provide all the records of the financier’s identity, types of expenses and sources of income. The commission will reconcile the sum of expenses recorded in Forms C, 67 and 68 within the permissible limit of the election expenses of the returned candidate. In the amendments being introduced in the election rules, it has been said the penalty imposed on political parties will be deposited in the government treasury. Political parties will also have to provide details of those who contribute more than Rs1 million in the party fund.

Details of the candidate’s immovable property within the country and abroad, as well as assets purchased, will also be disclosed. In addition to this, information about the candidate’s vehicles, jewellery, bank deposits and cash on hand will also be submitted on the form. The

RO will open the rejected votes in the presence of the candidate and the election agent, and the RO will prepare and seal the interim and final results on Forms 47, 48, and 49.

Published in Dawn, September 24rd, 2023

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