EC laid down healthy signs for transparent elections /.

Byline: Kanwar M Dilshad

The Elections Act 2017 empowers the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to proceed against the high ups who adversely affect the election process.

Sub-Section 3 of Section 55 of the Elections Act empowers the ECP to suspend or withdraw any election official, a public servant or any other person in the service of Pakistan for their negligence in conducting free and fair elections.

Article 260 of the Constitution defines service of Pakistan as any service, post or office in connection with the affairs of the federation or of a province and includes an all Pakistan service, service in the defence forces.

The Chief Election Commissioner and Commission under Section 55 can suspend even the Chief Secretary and the Inspector General of Punjab Police in connection with disappearance of the presiding officers since these authorities were directly responsible for holding fair elections as per Article 218.

It would set a precedent for future elections. Section 172 of the Elections Act explains the tampering with papers, it says a person is guilty of tempering with papers, if he ... intentionally defaces or destroys any nomination paper, ballot paper or official mark on a ballot paper or intentionally takes out of the polling station any ballot paper other than the ballot paper he is authorized by law to put in.

It said that an election official on duty in connection with the election who is guilty of the offence under sub-Section shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months.

Moreover, Section 184 of the Act explains violation of official duty in connection with election.

The law proposed an election official or any other on duty in connection with an election who is guilty of an offence under Section 184 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years.

The ECP had withheld the results after the polling, as presiding officers in the constituency had gone missing for over seven hours and top officials of the district administration and police were unavailable to help recover the allegedly abducted officers.

The recent round of by-elections has thrown up quite a few surprises. The Election Commission of Pakistan voided the recently held by-election in NA-75 Daska which was marred by deadly clashes between workers of the ruling party and PML-N, the mysterious disappearance of around 20 presiding officers and...

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