ISLAMABAD: The Electoral Reforms Bill 2017 will be tabled in the National Assembly on Monday, after the Senate last week passed the bill.
The acceptance of the bill in the National Assembly will pave the way for Nawaz Sharif to regain chairmanship of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Earlier in August, after Nawaz had been disqualified according to the Supreme Court’s verdict in the Panama Papers case, the ECP had informed the PML-N that according to the Political Parties Order 2002, a disqualified MNA would not hold any position in the party.
Earlier in September, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) had suggested an amendment in clause 203 of the bill, which said that any individual who is not qualified to become a member of the parliament, should not be eligible to become a party’s chairperson either.
Voting on the proposed amendment was done twice as during the first round some ruling party members were not present. During the second round, members cast 38 votes against the amendment and 37 in favour. Hence, the amendment was rejected by a margin of one vote.
According to the bill, every citizen will have the right to be part of a political party, except those in government service, and will also have the right to create a political party.
The bill also enables the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to scrutinise election expenses within 90 days, failing which election expenses submitted by a political party would be deemed to be correct.
The election reform bill was presented in the Upper House after being passed by the National Assembly earlier.
In the Lower House, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had recommended amendments which were rejected.
The NA had received around 150 amendments proposed by political parties for the bill. However, a key amendment proposed by the PTI asking for voting rights for overseas Pakistanis was also rejected.
The parliamentary committee had earlier finalised the Election Reforms Bill 2017 unifying eight different laws.
In the bill, new measures had been proposed in different areas of electioneering to give more powers to the ECP for holding of free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
Through the bill, the ECP had been strengthened and made fully independent and autonomous. According to the bill, the ECP shall prepare an action plan six months before the elections and delimit constituencies after every census.
Citizens, who have obtained CNICs (Computerised National Identity Cards) from NADRA (National Database Registration Authority) will be automatically enrolled as voters.
According to the approved bill, nomination form has been simplified and the same form has been prescribed for candidates for all seats. Printing of ballot papers will be based on the formula that the number of ballot papers per polling station shall be equal to the number of votes at the polling station, rounded off to the nearest hundred.
The election dispute resolution system has been made more expeditious and result-oriented. Local government constituencies shall be delimited by delimitation committees set up by the ECP for each district.