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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel that reviews the amendments in the Elections Act 2017, proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), has stressed on the need to ensure that the electoral body’s proposals are “subject to constitution.”

The Parliamentary Committee examining Proposed Amendments to the Elections Act 2017 by the ECP met under the chair of its Convener and Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar on Wednesday.

The panel decided to insert the term “subject to the constitution” in the ECP proposals seeking amendments in Sections 57(1) and 58 (1) of the constitution.

The committee recommended parliamentary legislation for the “removal of impediments in exercise of contempt powers of the ECP.”

Last week, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, in his letters to Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf, proposed amendments in the Sections 57(1) and 58(1) of the Elections Act 2017— and that these amendments be placed before the parliament for its consideration—to empower the ECP to pick a date for general polls.

The proposed amendment in Section 57(1) suggests that the commission shall announce the date or dates of the general elections by notification in the official gazette and shall call upon the constituencies to elect their representatives.

The proposed amendment in Section 58(1) suggests, notwithstanding anything contained in Section 57, the commission may, at any time, after the issuance of notification under sub-section (1) of that section, make such alterations in the elections programme announced in that notification for the different stages of the election or may issue a fresh election programme with fresh poll date(s) as may, in its opinion to be recorded in writing, be necessary for the purposes of this act.

The existing Section 57(1) of Elections Act 2017 provides that the president shall announce the date or dates of the general elections after consultation with the commission.

The existing Section 58(1) provides that notwithstanding anything contained in Section 57, the commission may, at any time, after the issue of the notification under sub-section (1) of that section, make such changes in the election programme announced in that notification for the different stages of the election or may issue a fresh election programme as may, in its opinion to be recorded in writing, be necessary for the purposes of this act: Provided that the commission shall inform the president about any change in the election programme made under this sub-section

The CEC, in the two letters, opposed the power of the president to fix a date for the general polls, saying this is against the spirit of the constitution and the powers granted to the ECP under Article 218(3) of the constitution which says that it is the duty of ECP to organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Parvez Apr 21, 2023 12:04am
The preamble to the Constitution and the Constitution says exactly the same thing..... to avoid embarrassment any contravention to this must be disallowed or else the SC will shoot it down.
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