ECP unveils changes to Election Rules

F.P. Report

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Saturday approved changes to 18 clauses of the Election Rules besides issuing five new forms. The ECP said that objections could be raised to these changes within 15 days.

As per one of the changes, a candidate will have to open a separate bank account for election campaign-related expenditures, and that a joint account will not be acceptable.

As per another change, a returning officer (RO) will provide election’s result to the candidate at the District Election Commission’s building. Similarly, according to yet another change, postal ballots will be enclosed in separate packets before sending to them to concerned ROs, and that in case the RO does not receive ballots prior to the election day, votes will not be counted.

Furthermore, now the RO will not only have to immediately inform the ECP in case the result is not announced by 2:00 at night, but he will also have to give reasons for that delay.

The RO will hand over the election result in the presence of all candidates. Not only that, he will himself fill in forms 47, 48 and 49 for results before sealing them. As per amended rule, a candidate will now himself calculate the expenditures incurred on electioneering and hand over its details to the ECP. Similarly under a new rule, the cost of filing election-related petition in the ECP will be Rs100,000, and that the ECP will be bound to give decision on it within 180 days. Likewise in case a candidate wants hearing of the petition to be adjourned, he or she will be fined between Rs10,000 to Rs50,000.

And even if the case’s hearing is adjourned, it will not be for more than three days, says another amended rule. According to yet another change, political parties will be bound to intimate the election commission about intra-party elections 15 days prior to these elections. Similarly, they are now bound to submit results to the ECP seven days after the elections. According to another amendment, the fines imposed by the election commission will be deposited in the national exchequer.