• Scrutiny of paperwork to continue till 30th; rules bar returning officers from asking ‘irrelevant’ questions
• ROs bound to give candidates, representatives ‘reasonable’ opportunity to examine all nomination papers

 Irfan Khan / ECP data
Irfan Khan / ECP data

ISLAMABAD: As many as 28,626 candidates have submitted their nomination papers for 1,085 general and reserved seats of the national and provincial assemblies across the country for polls to be held on February 8.

According to details shared by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), at least 7,713 candidates, including 471 women, submitted their nominations to contest the upcoming elections on 266 general seats of the National Assembly.

In Punjab, 3,871 candidates, including 277 women, filed nomination papers for 141 NA seats, while 1,681 candidates, inc­luding 110 women, submitted nominations for 61 NA seats in Sindh.

As many as 1,322 candidates, including 39 women, are in the run for 45 general seats in the National Ass­embly in Khyber Pakhtun­khwa (KP) while 631 nominees, including 12 women, filed nomination papers against 16 NA seats in Balochistan. As many as 208 candidates, including 26 women, submitted nominations for three National Assembly seats in the federal capital.

About 459 candidates filed nomination papers ag­­­a­inst 60 reserved seats for women in the National Ass­e­mbly. They include 195 from Punjab, 118 from Sin­dh, 97 from KP, and 49 from Balochistan. Like­wise, 150 nominations, inc­luding 10 women, filed no­­m­inations against 10 res­er­ved seats for non-Muslims in the National Assembly.

Provincial assemblies

As many as 18,546 candidates, including 802 women, submitted their nominations for 593 general seats of the four provincial assemblies.

For Punjab Assembly’s 297 general seats, 9,029 ca­ndidates have filed nominations, which also inclu­ded 437 women. Likewise, 4,265 candidates, including 205 women, filed nominations against 130 general seats of the Sindh Assembly.

As many as 3,464 candidates, including 115 wom­en, have filed nomination papers for 115 general seats of the KP Assembly while 1,788 candidates, including 45 women, are in the run for 45 general seats in the Balochistan Assembly.

A total of 1,366 candidates filed nominations against 132 reserved seats for women in the four provincial legislatures. They include 601 against 66 seats in Punjab Assembly, 309 for 29 seats in Sindh Assembly, 321 for 26 seats in KP Assembly, and 134 against 11 seats in Balochistan Assembly. As many as 393 candidates, including 32 women, filed nominations against 24 seats reserved for minorities in provincial assemblies.

Scrutiny underway

Meanwhile, a crucial phase involving the scrutiny of nomination papers got underway on Monday to screen out candidates ineligible to contest the polls. The process will continue till Dec 30. The ECP has established an online facilitation centre at its secretariat to provide support to the returning officers.

ECP spokesman Haroon Shinwari said the facilitation centre being backed by Nadra, NAB, FIA, FBR and the SBP, would work round the clock.

Data of candidates received from the returning officers will be sent to these institutions for necessary action. He explained that during the scrutiny of nomination papers, the defaulting candidates should approach the concerned RO from December 25 to 30.

The ECP has underlined that recovery of dues from defaulters should be ensured and all federal and provincial institutions of the government should contact the returning officers immediately.

The rules of the game spelt out by the Elections Act bar returning officers from asking any “irrelevant questions”.

“The candidates, their proposers and seconders…may attend the scrutiny of the nomination papers and the Returning Officer shall give them a reasonable opportunity for examining all the nomination papers,” according to Section 112(1) of the Election Act.

Under Section 112(6) of the Act, the RO may reject a nomination paper “if he is satisfied that the candidate is not qualified to be elected as a member”.

A proviso to the section reads, “Provided that the rejection of a nomination paper shall not invalidate the nomination of a candidate by any other valid nomination paper, the returning officer shall not reject a nomination paper on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial nature and may allow any such defect to be remedied forthwith…”

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2023

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