ECP to punish for contempt | BY Kanwar M Dilshad

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ECP to punish for contempt


ELECTION Commission of Pakistan also referred to various issues linked with the use of EVMs, including lack of ballot secrecy, lack of capacity at all levels and lack of ensuring security and chain of custody for the machines at rest and during transportation.

It’s also pointed out that there would be no evidence available in case of an election dispute as per ECP’s point of view that data integration and configuration issues may crop up due to court orders at the eleventh hour regarding a change in ballot paper.

The Government rejected the objections raised by the ECP to the electronic voting machines and expressed the resolve to go ahead with their use in the next general election to ensure uncontroversial electoral exercise.

The legislative process for EVMs introduction and for overseas Pakistani right to vote would be completed this month and everybody would be bound to obey the law once it’s enacted.

The Commission rejected all the accusations levelled against it by two Federal Ministers and decided to issue notices to them seeking evidence of the bribe it had allegedly received, the government refused to back down.

On the other hand, ECP has full powers as per Article 62, 63 and 204 to take action if the two ministers fail to prove the allegations.

The Government must reconsider its stance. Now that there is a renewed push for electoral reforms, it is crucial to get them right and for that consensus between the government, opposition and ECP is key.

The ECP objections include, among others, the concern that the EVMs are not temper-proof and have software that can be easily alternated; there is not enough time for such large scale procurement and deployment of EVMs and training the massive number of operators required about four lacs; there are security issues involving the chain of custody.

These points alone would be enough to throw the integrity of the general election-2023 into jeopardy.

The Government rejected the objections raised by the ECP to the electronic voting machines and expressed the resolve to go ahead with their use in the next general election to ensure uncontroversial electoral exercise.

The legislative process for EVMs introduction and for overseas Pakistanis right to vote would be completed this month and everybody would be bound to obey the law once it’s enacted.

I am of the view that there is a fear of big electoral fraud if EVMs are used in hustle. The EVMs could easily be tampered as 0.8 million EVMs would have to be procured if a decision to use these EVMs for elections in one go was taken and it would also require a constitutional amendment in Article 2018 and 226; not amendment in Elections Act 2017 in section 103 and 94. I observed these remarks before the Senate Standing Committee for Parliamentary Affairs on 7th September.

An independent and impartial ECP is in the interest of all parties desirous of at least a relatively controversy free election in a landscape where various factors make that a monumentally difficult task.

The government have disgraced themselves by Azam Sawati’s odious remarks against a constitutional body mandated to oversee elections and the PM must take notice against some ministers who added more fuel to the fire later by echoing some of the aspersions.

The ECP may exercise the same power as the High Court to punish any person for contempt of court under the Contempt of Court Ordinance 2003 or any other law pertaining to contempt of court shall have effect accordingly as if reference therein to a court and to a judge were a reference; respectively; to the Commission and the Commissioner or as the case may be; a member of the Commission.

—The writer is former Federal Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.

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