- Bills sent back for reconsideration and detailed deliberation by parliament
President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi returned on Saturday two bills, pertaining to election laws and reduction in the powers of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), for "reconsideration and detailed deliberation by the parliament and its committee(s)".
Last month, the National Assembly of Pakistan approved the Elections Amendment Bill 2022, which sought to scrap electronic voting in elections and restrain overseas Pakistanis from participating in polls.
On the other hand, amendments to the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 (NAO) act aimed at bounding NAB to ensure availability of evidence prior to making an arrest.
The documents were sent back to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as Alvi claimed that he "was not informed" about the “legislative proposal” under Article 46 before they were tabled in Parliament.
The bills were returned by Alvi in accordance with Article 75-A of the constitution of Pakistan. He claimed that both bills were approved by the National Assembly on May 26 in Senate on May 27 in a hasty manner. The bills had been forwarded to the president for approval on May 31.
He stated that the Supreme Court of Pakistan gave overseas Pakistanis a go-ahead to vote in the general elections in 2014 and in 2018. Moreover, Alvi pointed out that e-voting was also deemed safe and fair by the courts.
Article 17 of the constitution gives overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in the general elections and Pakistan also has system in place for electronic voting.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government had made several amendments to the Election Act, 2017, including those that allowed the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) and granted overseas Pakistanis the right to vote in general elections.
In November 2021, a joint session of the Parliament passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 regarding use of EVMs.
The then adviser to the prime minister on parliamentary affairs Babar Awan presented the bill to amend the elections act, 2017 [the elections (amendment) bill, 2021]. The motion to table the electoral reforms bill passed with 221 votes in favour while 203 lawmakers voted against it.