NA ends compulsion on poll candidates’ to appear before ROs


The National Assembly on Tuesday passed a private members’ bill, exempting candidates from appearing in person before the returning officer (ROs) at the time of submitting their nomination papers, while the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013 was also passed by the House prohibiting physical abuse against children.

The 17th sitting of the ongoing 50th NA session was presided over by Speaker Fehmida Mirza.

During the session, an opposition member belonging to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Zahid Hamid moved a hand-written bill to cancel the amendment made in the representation of People Act 1976 during former President Pervez Musharraf’s era.

The bill did not face any opposition and was passed unanimously.

Federal Law Minister Farooq Naik alleged that former military dictator turned president Pervez Musharraf made the amendment to prevent Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif from contesting elections.

“With this amendment in the ROPA 1976, the Act will be restored to previous position enabling the candidates to avoid coming to returning officer if there is any threat or other reason,” Naek said.

He explained that the law was passed to counter the uncertain security situation due to which many political leaders faced death threats. “The candidates can now send their representatives to file the nomination papers instead of coming themselves.”

“After this amendment becomes an act, personal appearance of a candidate will not be mandatory. If any person desires to go to file his or her nomination papers, he can but if they do not desire, they cannot be compelled to appear in person at the time of filing the nomination papers,” Naik said.

PML-N member Naseer Bhutta called the amendment important, while Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) member Waseem Akhter and Waqas Akram also supported the bill.

The NA unanimously passed three private members’ bills.

The House also unanimously adopted a resolution condemning the corporal punishment for children.

The Lower House took up a calling attention notice about lack of maternal care and child healthcare in IslamabadCapitalTerritory’s (ICT) and other government hospitals.

Later, two other private members’ bills titled the Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013, the Reproductive Healthcare and Rights Bill 2013 were also passed by the House.

Under Prohibition of Corporal Punishment Bill 2013, physical abuse or punishment of children stands prohibited in the country and one conducting any such violation could be sentenced for one year imprisonment or be fined Rs 50,000 fine and could be given both the sentences on the same time.

The victim child or one’s parents could lodge a complaint against the person accused of physical punishment, and government, semi-government and private institutions would fall under the legislation.

During the sitting, five other bills were introduced and referred to the respective standing committees, including the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government Bill 2013, the Legal Practitioners and Bar Council (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2013, and the Overseas Pakistanis Facilitation of Voting Bill 2013.

Two standing committee reports about the Pakistan Telecommunication (Re-organization) (Amendment) Bill 2010, and the Publication of the Holy Quran (Elimination of Printing and Recordings Errors) (Amendment) Bill 2008 were presented to the House.

Later, the session was adjourned when MMA member of parliament pointed out low quorum in the House.