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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

In a historic move, Pakistan’s national assembly passed 21 bills in single day

The National Assembly on Thursday passed a record 21 government bills including laws related to the conduct of elections

The National Assembly on Thursday passed a record 21 government bills including laws related to the conduct of elections and the International Court of Justice (Review and Re-consideration) Bill, 2020 to bring into effect the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the case of Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.

Advisor to Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan tabled the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2020 for consideration after suspension of the rules.

The House passed the bill with majority vote after voice voting, state media reported.

The Election (Amendment) Bill, 2020 was introduced in the National Assembly on October 16, 2020. It was referred to the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs the same day.

The major proposed amendments to the bill include:

  1. more financial autonomy to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) (Section11(2));
  2. delimitation on the basis of equal number of voters instead of population (Sections 17&20);
  3. appeal to Supreme Court by any aggrieved person on delimitation lists (Section 21(5) new);
  4. Variation in delimitation not exceeding 5% (instead of 10%) (Section 20);
  5. sections relating to electoral rolls by ECP to be omitted (24, 26, 28-34, 36-42, 44);
  6. electoral rolls same as registration ID data of NADRA (Section 25);
  7. appointment of polling staff from amongst the officers/staff from outside of a constituency (Section 53);
  8. provision to challenge appointment of polling officers/staff within 15 days of appointment (Section 15);
  9. increase in nomination fee (Section 61);
  10. seat to be vacated if returned candidate does not take oath within 60 days from first sitting (Section 72 A new);
  11. appointment of five election agents for a polling station instead of one (Section 76(1));
  12. overseas Pakistanis to be extended voting rights (Section 94);
  13. use of electronic voting machines in elections to make it transparent (Section 103);
  14. polling for Senate elections under open ballot (subject to amendment in Article 226 of the Constitution);
  15. enlistment of political parties on the basis of 10,000 members (instead of 2000) including 20% women (Section 202); annual convention by political parties (Section 213a new);
  16. and introduction of timelines for various election procedures.

Elections (Second Amendment) Bill

Likewise, the House passed the Elections (Second Amendment) Bill which pertains to fair, free and transparent election through utilisation of technology and modern gadgets.

The bill is also aimed at granting voting rights to the Overseas Pakistanis which may only be possible by vesting exclusive authority in ECP with technical assistance of NADRA and other agencies.

Read More: How many lawmakers were in the National Assembly during vote of confidence?

Amendments were sought in section 94 and 103 of the Election Act, 2017 to achieve the aforesaid objectives.

This bill was also piloted by Awan in the House.