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> PILDAT calls for urgent amendment in Law & Rules to safeguard Constitutional independence of the ECP
   
 

March 11, 2013
Islamabad

   

March 11; PILDAT has called for an urgent amendment in the Representation of People Act, 1976 and its Rules to safeguard the independence of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as guaranteed by the Constitution of Pakistan.

 
 

In a statement issued today, PILDAT has said that it has repeatedly demanded over the years that ECP should be independent in amending its rules and constituting election tribunals and should not be dependent on Presidentís approval. At present, according to clause 107 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976, the ECP can make rules for carrying out the purpose of the Act only with the approval of the President.[1] Similarly, as per clause 5 of the same Act, election tribunals can only be constituted with the approval of the President.

 
 

PILDAT maintains that these clauses are against the principle of the independence of the Election Commission, as guaranteed by Article 218 (3)[2] of the Constitution of Pakistan. Since the ECP has determined that amendments need to be made to the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (LXXXV of 1976),[3] as the proposed package of amendments was submitted to the Government by the ECP in February 2013,[4] the Governmentís refusal to do so will hamper the abilities of the ECP in the discharge of its duties as per article 218 (3) of the Constitution.

 
 

Change in the Nomination Forms, as proposed by the ECP, also falls under the Representation of the People (Conduct of Election) Rules, 1997, for which the ECP requires approval of the President. Not receiving this approval in time also violates the Constitution, believes PILDAT.

 
 

PILDAT believes that it is unfortunate that a Government and Parliament which has to its credit the passage of significant electoral reforms in 5 years, through constitutional and legal amendments, should at this stage drag its feet on the amendments sought by the ECP and withhold Presidential assent.

 
 

PILDAT has urged the Parliament, before the expiry of its term, to amend the Representation of People Act, 1976 and approve the package of amendments submitted by the ECP. The Parliament has the right to amend the ECP proposed reforms, as PILDAT had also proposed amendments in its analysis of the ECP-proposed package of reforms, but the Government can not and should not stall the process of passage of these amendments by the Parliament.

 
 

References:

1. 107. Power to make rules.-The Commission may with the approval of the President, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this [Representation of People Act, 1976] Act.

2. 218 (3) It shall be the duty of the Election Commission to organize and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against. (Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan)

3. For details please see ECP draft bill to amend ROPA, 1976: http://ecp.gov.pk/Misc/ROPA.pdf

4. For details please see PILDAT Analysis of the Package of Amendments to the Representation of the People Act, 1976 (LXXXV of 1976) proposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan at: http://www.pildat.org/eventsdel.asp?detid=594