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Saturday July 13, 2024

Under amended election rules…: Parties bound to provide details of those donating Rs1m or more

In statement issued by ECP Saturday, two new forms, 67 and 68, will also be included for election expenses

By Mumtaz Alvi
September 24, 2023
A security guard scans the area outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) headquarters in Islamabad in this undated file photo. — APP
A security guard scans the area outside the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) headquarters in Islamabad in this undated file photo. — APP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has suggested 18 key changes in the election rules, using its powers conferred by Section 239 of the Elections Act, 2017, mainly focusing on financial matters, candidature and result compilation.

Under the amended laws, a political party will have to provide details of those who will donate one million rupees or more for the election expenses. A new form number 69 will also be included for financing the political party.

In a statement issued by the ECP on Saturday, two new forms, 67 and 68, will also be included for election expenses. Also, details of candidates’ immovable property in the country, abroad, and assets purchased will also be revealed. Apart from this, the details of the candidates’ vehicles, jewellery, bank or cash will also be mentioned in the form.

Along with the election symbol of the candidates, the list will also be displayed on the website, the candidate will also provide details of campaign financing, along with election expenses to the returning officers.

The ECP said in the statement: “The present situation so warrants and it is expedient to carry out further amendments to Rules 51, 52(3), 66(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), Form 41(g), Form 41(h), Form 67, Form 68, and annexures, and Form 69.”

It has been explained 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.

The ECP has proposed changes in 18 clauses of the Election Rules and issued five new forms as well. It said that objections to the amended rules could be filed within 15 days, political parties or candidates could raise objections till October 7.

In the first proviso to sub-rule (4) of rule 84, after the expressions “day immediately following the polling day”, the following expressions shall be inserted “and if, for any reason, the results are incomplete by 02:00 a.m. on the day immediately following the polling day, the returning officer shall communicate to the Commission provisional results as consolidated till that time along with reasons for the delay, in writing, while listing the polling station from which results are awaited and thereafter shall send the complete provisional results as soon as compiled but not later than 10:00 a.m.” and thereafter second proviso to the said sub-rule (4) shall stand omitted.

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

The returning officer will provide the results to the candidate in the office of the district election commission. Likewise, the rules related to postal ballot have also been changed; postal ballots would be sealed in separate packets and sent to the respective returning officers (ROs). If the postal ballot is not received by the RO before the election day, the votes will not be included in the counting.

According to the rules, the RO would hand over the results in the presence of the candidates; the RO would compile and seal forms 47, 48, 49 for the results, the candidate will set and hand over the record of election expenses himself or herself. The candidate will be obliged to provide complete details of election expenses and details of financial expenditure on the election campaign.

A petition related to the election could be filed for Rs1 lakh, the ECP will decide the case in 180 days. Similarly, a fine of Rs10,000 to Rs50,000 will be imposed for seeking adjournment during the hearing.

The ECP said that political parties would be obliged to inform the Election Commission 15 days before the intra-party elections. Similarly, after the amendment to the rules, political parties would have to submit details after seven days of the intra-party election.

It has been proposed that the election application will be submitted with Rs100,000, the amount deposited with the nomination papers would be non-refundable, the money will be deposited in the government treasury.

According to the ECP, if another person is allowed to spend the election expenses, then the candidate will also give all records of that: the financier’s identity card; types of expenses and sources of income will also be given in the details. The commission 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.

In the amendments introduced to the election rules, it has been said that the penalty imposed on political parties will be deposited in the government treasury.

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