Monday, May 13, 2013

ECP seeks report on alleged rigging

May 14, 2013,ISLAMABAD:-

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Monday, in its first post-election meeting, summoned reports by Tuesday (May 14) evening from all the Karachi-based district returning officers (DROs), returning officers (ROs), district police officers (DPOs) and Sindh Provincial Election Commission about polling on the National Assembly seats.

Briefing media persons about the ECP meeting, presided over by Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim, the ECP Secretary, Ishtiak Ahmad Khan, said decisions would be taken in the light of these reports under Section 103-AA of the Representation of the People Act.

The electoral body met here amid agitation by several parties, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) against what they alleged massive rigging during the elections in the port city on May 11. Five parties in Karachi boycotted the polling process, alleging the MQM was involved in electoral manipulations. However, the MQM strongly rejects these allegations.

Khan noted the commission expressed satisfaction over the electoral process and the results and said barring a few incidents, the elections were held in a free and transparent manner across Pakistan. The meeting appreciated the masses for a big turnout and noted that not only youth but also special persons and old people took part in voting.

while the remaining 10 percent would be received by Monday night. He noted the commission retained its decision to hold re-polling in 43 polling stations of NA-250 in the next 7-10 days.

He said that after the completion of the results, the next stage would be the functioning of 14 election tribunals: three set up in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan each and five in the Punjab. He maintained that a solid proof of irregularity could result in disqualification of a candidate and re-polling in a constituency.

He said election petitions would have to be decided within 120 days, contrary to the past practice when such cases took years to resolve. He said Director General Law Imtiaz Alam Khan had been made registrar of these tribunals.

The secretary said the tribunals were empowered to get ballot boxes opened, verified thump impressions of voters from Nadra. He said the tribunals would hold inquiries summoning the concerned parties and lawyers. "You should forget that an irregularity has been done and a presiding officer gets away with it," he asserted.

He noted for each and every ballot paper, the presiding officer was answerable to the commission.Asked was the commission satisfied with the performance of the security forces during the elections, he replied in the affirmative but conceded the situation in Karachi was different and it was before the media.

He said the provinces had been asked to de-requisition the military services for elections after the process was over, except for Karachi and Hyderabad, where the matter was being considered.

About the PTI agitation in Lahore against the alleged rigging and violence, he said that the commission was aware of that and the election tribunals were there for redressal of genuine complaints. "The returning officers have to pointed it out to the commission, where re-polling is due because of the security situation," he pointed out.

About the FAFEN preliminary report on elections, he said that the network had reported irregularities at 693 polling stations out of 70,000 polling stations. The commission, he noted, also discussed attempts by some political parties to bar women from casting their vote in some parts of Pakistan. He said the commission would welcome a solid proof of that.

Agencies add: The ECP asked the winning candidates of national and provincial assemblies to submit their returns of election expenses to the returning officers till May 21. "The Section 42(3A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976, read with Section 50 and Rule 30 of the Representation of the People (Conduct of Election) Rule, 1977, requires every candidate returned to the National Assembly and provincial assemblies to submit to the returning officer concerned, a return of election expenses within 10 days from the poll of an election," said the ECP in a statement. It said, "Under the law election expenses mean any expenditure incurred before, during and after an election or payment made, whether by way of gift, loan, advance, deposit or otherwise, for the arrangements, conduct or benefit of, or in connection with, or incidental to, the election of a candidate including the expenditure on account of issuing circulars or publications, aims or objects, but does not include the security deposit required to be made, under section 13 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976."

"The return should be submitted to the returning officer on Forum No. XVII prescribed for this purpose, alongwith an affidavit in the prescribed form (Form-XIX) duty sworn by the returned candidate. The forms prescribed for the return of election expenses are available with the returning officers. Typed or hand-written forms can also be used.

"The return in the prescribed form should contain a statement of all payments made by the returned candidate together with all bills and receipts, a statement of all disputed claims, a statement of all unpaid claims, if any, and a statement of all moneys, securities or equivalent of money received from or spent by any person for the benefit of the candidate specifying the name of every such person.

"The election expenses of a contesting candidate for election to a seat in the National Assembly shall not exceed Rs1.5 million and to a seat in the provincial assembly shall not exceed Rs 1 million," it said.

Meanwhile, the ECP took notice of a delay in release of official election results.In a letter, it directed the provincial election commissions to release the results without any delay.It said that the process of compilation of official results should be completed as soon as possible.

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