The Senate passed on Friday a bill seeking amendments to the Elections Act 2017, aimed at empowering the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce poll dates unilaterally without having to consult the president.

The bill was moved by the Minister of State for Law Shahadat Awan. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjarani presented the bill for voting which was passed with a majority.

The amendment also empowers the ECP to make modifications to the election program as necessary.

Minister for Law Azam Nazeer Tarar said that under this bill, the ECP will now be able to announce dates for general elections. The minister further said that the amendments would make the role of the ECP more active and enable it to make changes in the election schedules as well.

Senators belonging to Jamaat-i-Islami and the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) opposed the bill, with Leader of the Opposition Shahzad Waseem saying that legislation can only be done under the Constitution.

Waseem said that the Constitution was very clear about the date of the elections and gives both the president and governor the power to announce the date for polls.

In April, Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja, in his letters to Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervez Ashraf, proposed amendments in 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) suggested 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) suggested, 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.

Meanwhile, the bill approved today, also included an amendment to Section 232 (Qualifications and Disqualifications) of the Election Act, 2017.

As per the proposed amendment, disqualification of the lawmaker will be considered for 5 years where the tenure of the punishment is not specified in the constitution.

The disqualification of the person will be considered for five years on the orders of the Supreme Court or high courts.


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Tulukan Mairandi Jun 16, 2023 04:30pm
Great lesson taught to the pro-Niazi president
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