The much-awaited ‘The Election Bill 2017’ aimed at further strengthening the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and ensuring credible polls, is likely to be presented in the current session of the National Assembly. The government had formed a parliamentary committee on electoral reforms headed by Finance Minister Mohammad Ishaq Dar in 2014, which drafted the bill after deliberations for more than two years.
The electoral reforms bill had been finalised after 118 meetings, 25 of the main parliamentary committee and 93 of its sub-committee headed by Law Minister Zahid Hamid. Some 631 proposals were received from various political parties and citizens. The Business Advisory Committee of the National Assembly, which met on Tuesday last, decided that the draft electoral reforms bill would be presented in the House during the current session.
The parliamentary committee has prepared the Election Bill-2017 with an amalgamation of previous eight different laws and proposing new measures in different areas of electioneering to further empower the ECP for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country. A number of initiatives have been suggested in the new bill regarding preparation of voters’ lists, delimitation, simplification of nomination papers, installation of surveillance cameras, penalties of violations, women voters turnout, powers of polling day officials, expediting election disputes, implementation of Code of Conduct and vote counting.
As revealed in the main features of the Election Bill 2017, eight election laws, including the Electoral Rolls Act: 1974 (Act No. XXI of 1974); the Delimitation of Constituencies Act, 1974 (Act No. XIXIV of 1974); the Senate (Election) Act, 1975 (Act No. LI of 1975); Representation of the People Act, 1976 (Act No. LXXXV of 1976); the Election Commission Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No.1 of 2002); the Conduct of General Elections Order, 2002 (Chief Executive’s Order No.7—APP