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Electoral reforms: Panel suggests voiding polls if women turnout below 10%

Electoral reforms: Panel suggests voiding polls if women turnout below 10%

By Irfan Ghauri

ISLAMABAD: 

In its interim report submitted before the parliament on Tuesday, the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms (PCER) has proposed a mandatory minimum of 10 per cent women voting in a constituency to declare the results valid.

“If the turnout of women voters is less than ten per cent of the total votes polled in a constituency, then the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) may presume that the women voters have been restrained through an agreement from casting their votes and may declare, polling at one or more polling stations or election in the whole constituency, void,” said the bipartisan sub-penal.

The proposal is part of the report of the sub-committee – headed by Law Minister Zahid Hamid – which was tasked to vet all the proposals. However, some members of the main committee have reservations over this proposal, and want a review of it before a final vote in the parliament.

Earlier Finance Minister Ishaq Dar chaired the 20th in camera meeting of the PCER, a bipartisan committee – comprising members from both houses of the parliament – which was constituted in August 2014 to come up with an election reforms package.

According to an official handout, the PCER’s sub-committee submitted its unanimously approved report regarding the Draft Elections Bill, 2017 and the Draft Elections Rules, 2017 (sent to the ECP for finalisation as per Elections Bill, 2017) for consideration and approval of the PCER.

The interim report presented before the parliament has suggested a number of changes in the existing laws and consolidated different election laws into a unified law, called Elections Act, 2017. The parliament has been asked to look into these proposals for a month before a final vote.

To check the mushrooming of political parties overnight, it has been proposed that minimum one thousand members should be a must for registration of a political party. These parties will also have to deposit Rs100,000 as security.

The penal has also proposed to enhance the election expense limit for the national and provincial assemblies to Rs4 and Rs2million from Rs1.5 million and Rs1 million respectively. The limit for Senate remains unchanged at Rs1.5 million.

Likewise, the nomination fee has been proposed to be enhanced to Rs30,000 for the National Assembly candidates and Rs20,000 for candidates of the provincial assemblies and the Senate.

The ECP’s administrative and financial powers have been proposed to be strengthened. The ECP would be empowered to issue specific directions, which would be treated as directions as of a high court. All it expenditure would be charged to the federal government’s consolidated fund like Supreme Court.

The committee has also suggested starting delimitation after each census, and in case the census could not be conducted for some reason, it will be done after every ten years on the basis of electoral rolls.

The caretaker governments in future would only make decisions about day-to-day affairs of non-controversial in nature and would be barred from taking a major policy decision unless there is some urgency.

The Express Tribune

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