Wednesday Dec 01, 2021
Former Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary Kanwar Dilshad has said that no institution is authorised to withhold ECP's funds and if such an attempt is made, the Commission can launch a contempt case.
"The ECP is a constitutional institution and enjoys the same protocols and powers as the Supreme Court. As such, it will obtain the funds from the Ministry of Finance under Article 222 of the Constitution," he said while speaking on Geo News programme 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath' on Tuesday.
Dilshad served as ECP federal secretary from July, 2004 to December, 2009. At present, he is the chairman of the NDF, which is a think tank creating awareness on electoral laws and is associated with the United Nations.
Article 222 of the Constitution of Pakistan (electoral laws) empowers the ECP to reject any amendments to the Election Laws 2017 even if they are passed by a joint session of Parliament and all provincial assemblies, if they are against the provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan, Dilshad had told The News earlier.
"No institution has the authority to decline funds to the Election Commission," Dilshad said.
On the Geo News programme, Dilshad said Article 222 states that an act that is meant to curtail the powers of the ECP and the chief election commissioner will not be acknowledged. Under this article, the ECP will not accept an act even if provincial assemblies, the National Assembly or Senate had passed it, he said.
The former secretary of the ECP further said it is beyond his understanding as to how the government will withhold the ECP's funds, given that the Constitution has granted the authority [to the ECP].
"The Election Commission can file a case of contempt if its funds are withheld," he asserted.
Two weeks after passage of bills related to electoral reforms from a joint sitting of Parliament, the Federal Cabinet on Tuesday viewed that the ECP was "bound" to hold all the next elections including by-polls through electronic voting machines (EVMs).
“The federal cabinet, while discussing the most important decision on the EVM, opined that after amendment in the [election] laws, it is mandatory for the election commission to hold all next by-polls through EVMs,” Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain told media persons after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“If elections are not conducted through the EVMs, there is another opinion that the government will not be able to fund them,” he said, explaining the existing election laws that only gave legitimacy to the polls via the machines.
He said Federal Minister for Law and Justice Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem was of the view that on prima facie, the government could only give funds to the ECP for elections if that were held through EVMs.
The government had formed a committee in that regard and the law ministry would give its opinion on the matter, Fawad added.
The minister said the ECP should ensure use of the EVMs in all the next elections as Parliament had given mandate in that regard.
Earlier, the cabinet was briefed on the introduction of the electronic voting machine (EVM) and the empowerment of Overseas Pakistanis to vote, a statement from the PM's Office had said.
Federal Minister Shibli Faraz gave a briefing on procurement of EVM, training of staff, responsibilities of concerned agencies, public awareness campaign, and timely delivery, the statement said.
Moreover, the information said the ECP would get funds from the government to hold the next polls only if it holds the elections via EVMs.
"The cabinet also expressed grave concerns over the release of a video of alleged vote-buying during the by-elections in NA-133. The cabinet said such illegal actions were anti-democratic," the statement said.
The war for votes between PML-N and PPP in Lahore's NA-133, where a by-election is due on December 5, had gone beyond the constituency to social media, where a viral video appeared to show voters being bribed by party members.
Both parties had blamed each other's workers for the alleged move.