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ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has authorised first class magisterial powers to the district returning officers and returning officers to take on electoral offences through summary trials in the general polls.

The commission has conferred these powers on the DROs and ROs in exercise of powers under Section 193 of the Elections Act 2017, according to a notification issued on Friday.

The notification is effective immediately - till the announcement of official results of the general polls, the ECP said.

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The Section 193 provides that an officer exercising the powers of a civil or criminal court, or an officer of the armed forces, or an officer performing a duty in connection with an election, who is authorised by the Commission, may exercise the powers of a magistrate of the first class under the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 in respect of the offences of personation, or capturing of polling station or polling booth.

Section 260 of this Code authorises the magistrates with first class powers to try summarily for offences not punishable with death, transportation or imprisonment for a term exceeding six months.

The ECP notification stated that the DROs and ROs shall exercise the first class magisterial powers under Section 169 and Section 171 punishable under Section 174 of Elections Act 2017.

Section 169 reads, a person is guilty of personation if they vote or apply for a ballot paper for voting, as “some other person whether that other person is living or dead or fictitious.”

Section 171 says that a person is guilty of capturing a polling station or polling booth if they seize a polling station or a polling booth, take possession of a polling station or a polling booth, coerce, intimidate or threaten, directly or indirectly, any voter and prevent them from going to the polling station or a place fixed for the poll to cast their vote.

The Section 174 provides that any person guilty of the offence of corrupt practice shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to 120,000 rupees or with both.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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