The Chief Election Commissioner of ECP has wrote a letter to Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf suggested amendments in the election law.
Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja has suggested amendments in clause 57 (i) and 58 of the Election Act 2017 and approval of these amends in the election law from the parliament.
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Secretary Election Commission has also written letters to the Secretary Parliamentary Affairs and the Principal Secretary to the PM, Tauqeer Shah, and suggested amendments in clause 57 (i) and 58.
In his letters, the CEC wrote that the conduct of elections is dependent upon the necessary arrangements to be made by the commission to ensure that the standards of honesty, justness, fairness provided in Article 218(2) are met.
“The Commission, under the Constitution, is the sole arbiter to decide as to whether conducive circumstances exist to conduct the elections or not. This mandate is not subordinate to any authority,” the letters read.
He has suggested amendments in Sections 57(1) and 58 of the Election Act (2017) and has requested for these amendments to be presented in the parliament.
In view of the facts and reasons stated in the letter, the ECP has asked both the NA speaker and Senate chairman to be placed before the Parliament for adoption with the following amendments:
i. “Section 57(1) 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.”
ii. “Section 58 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.”
It added that the judgments of 1st March and 5th April have divested the ECP of its constitutional powers to determine as to whether conducive environment in facts and circumstances, exists for the conduct of polls in a given time, to meet the standards mentioned in Article 218(3).
The CEC has sought approval of the amendments in the election law from the parliament. This amendment in the law will allow the election commission to announce the date of general elections.
The letter also touched upon the issue of contempt with regard to the CEC and the members of the commission.
The CEC wrote that the role of the president to appoint a date for poll in the case of dissolution of the National Assembly on the advice of the prime minister or the dissolution of the lower house on expiry of the term, is not supported by any constitutional provision.
It further mentioned that the role of the President to announce poll date is against the spirit of the Constitution and ultra vires of proviso of Article 222 as it has abridged and taken away the powers of the Commission mandated under Article 218(3) and 219 of the Constitution.
“It is felt that supplanting/instituting these amendments have resulted in dilution of the Authority of the Constitutional mandate vested in ECP on account of the Article 218 (3),” the letters mentioned.
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