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> ECP-proposed changes on Election Nomination Form need to be revised: PILDAT
   
 

February 25, 2013
Islamabad

   

February 25; PILDAT believes that not all changes incorporated by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in the revised Nomination Form should be retained. While some revisions by the ECP are in line with requirements of transparency, some others are vague and unnecessarily intrusive and must be removed from the form, PILDAT has maintained.

 
 

Sharing its review of the new Nomination Form, which has reportedly been sent by the ECP to the Ministry of Law and Parliamentary Affairs to seek approval from the President, PILDAT has expressed support for new clauses 4, 5, 12, 13, 14 and 15 under the section titled “Declaration and Oath by the Person Nominated.”

 
 

Clause 4 [1] requires candidates to provide details of account opened for election expenses and is in line with the direction of the Supreme Court in its verdict in Constitution Petition No. 87 of 2011 (Workers Party Pakistan v. Federation of Pakistan, etc.) case in which the SC directed the ECP to make it mandatory for candidates to open election expense accounts and providing weekly statements to the ECP.

 
 

Commenting on clause 5, [2] PILDAT has stated that while information being sought from candidates including list of spouse and dependents is to be supported, section ii of clause 5 which asks candidates to state that neither candidate nor her/his spouse or dependent own “any company” is vague and unclear whether they should declare only 100% ownership, 50% ownership or shares in any company. PILDAT has asked that the ECP must make this more specific to obtain accurate required information.

 
 

PILDAT has also supported the inclusion of clause 12 that seeks detailed information from the candidates on the income tax paid and asks for attachment of copies of income tax returns paid in the past 3 years. PILDAT also supports clause 13 which requires details of children studying abroad and expenses incurred on their education for previous three years; clause 14 which is inserted to obtain information on travel abroad and expenses incurred as well as clause 15 which requires candidates to provide details of any agricultural income tax paid and copies of agricultural tax returns.

 
 

PILDAT has, however, expressed strong reservation against the insertion of clause 16 which requires former MNAs or MPAs to describe “single most important contribution ... made for the benefit of ..constituency.” [3] Role of elected legislators is not governed by their ‘contribution to the constituency.’ Their role is legislation, representation and oversight over the executive, in that order. Moreover, the Election Commission neither has the authority, nor is its role, to sit in judgement of the ‘contribution’ of elected representatives. How have elected representatives performed their responsibilities is to only be judged by the voters who can choose to return their candidate to the Assemblies or vote them out. PILDAT has demanded that the ECP must remove this clause from the nomination form.

 
 

Similar reservation has been expressed by PILDAT on clause 19 [4] which requires candidates to declare whether they have made donations to charitable institutions. It is strange and beyond comprehension why the ECP should be asking candidates to declare such information when this kind of information is even morally expected to remain between the person making any donation and to the charity to which donation is made. PILDAT has demanded that this must also be deleted from the nomination form.

 
 

Supporting the insertion of clauses 17 and 18 that ask a candidate to declare whether he/she has made any financial contribution to the political party which has awarded party ticket for the election, and whether the party has paid any sum to the candidate, PILDAT has questioned the insertion of clause 20 that asks a candidate to declare he/she will abide by the Code of Conduct issued by the ECP and has termed it as superfluous.

PILDAT has supported the additions to the form which have made statements of assets and liabilities by candidates to be more comprehensive. However, PILDAT has questioned the vagueness of the language clause b of the (b) of the No Objection Certificates which requires candidates to state that “failure to give detail regarding any item of this Form shall render my nomination to contest election invalid.” While PILDAT supports the insertion of this clause in the NOC, it has suggested that the language of this clause be made more specific and it must be qualified to ensure that only willful or deliberate failure to provide required information in the form will make a candidate’s nomination invalid. The required details may also be specified rather than leaving it vague.

PILDAT’s review and suggestions on the new nomination forms have been shared with the Election Commission of Pakistan.

 
 

References:

1. Clause 4: I, the above mentioned candidate hereby declare on oath that,—
(i) I have opened Account No._________________ with ________________ (Name and Branch of scheduled bank) and have deposited therein an amount of Rs.____________(amount in words)____________________________________ for the purpose of election expenses.
(ii) I shall make all election expenditures out of the money deposited in the aforesaid account.
(iii) I shall not make any transaction towards the election expenses through an account other than the above account.

2. Clause 5: I, hereby solemnly affirm that,—
(i) The list containing the names of my spouse and dependents is correct and no name has been left out. (list attached)
(ii) Neither I nor my spouse nor any of my dependents mainly owns any company except the following:
______________________________
______________________________
______________________________

3. Clause 16. If you have been elected Member of National Assembly/Provincial Assembly what according to you was the single most important contribution you have made for the benefit of your constituency (attach detail, if any).

4. Clause 19: Whether you have in the last three years given any donation to any recognized charitable or educational institution (attach detail, if any).