ROs, POs to exercise first-class magisterial powers for April 21 by-elections

POs will be able to use the authority during the by-elections and until final results are announced

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Web Desk
Polling agents collect electoral material ahead of a by-election in Karachi on October 15, 2022. — Online
Polling agents collect electoral material ahead of a by-election in Karachi on October 15, 2022. — Online

  • DROs, ROs granted magisterial powers under Section 193.
  • They will take action over ECP rule's violation.
  • They can also begin legal proceedings under Section 190.


ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has bestowed upon returning officers (ROs) and presiding officers (POs) powers equivalent to those of first-class magistrates to guarantee the smooth conduct of the upcoming by-polls on April 21 for five National Assembly constituencies and 16 provincial assembly constituencies across the country.

According to the ECP's notification, district returning officers (DROs) and ROs were granted magisterial powers under Section 193 of the Election Act of 2017.

The POs will be able to use the authority during the by-elections, which will be held between April 20 and 22 in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Balochistan, and until the final results are announced.

ROs and DROs will have the authority to take action against a candidate for violating the ECP’s code of conduct. They will be able to exercise the powers of a first-class magistrate over offenses falling under Section 169 and 171.

The officers could also begin legal proceedings under Section 190 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and conduct summary trials as per Chapter XX of the code.

Why are the by-polls being held on NA seats?

The by-elections for many of the constituencies were postponed on  February 8 due to various reasons, including the death of contesting candidates and candidates running for multiple seats. Additionally, some constituencies were vacated by winners of dual seats.

The NA seats on which by-elections will take place include NA-8 Bajaur, NA-44 Dera Ismail Khan-I, NA-119 Lahore-III, NA-132 Kasur-II and NA-196 Kamber Shadadkot-I.

The elections on NA-8 Bajaur were suspended after a candidate contesting as an independent was shot dead.

Meanwhile, NA-44 seat fell vacant after newly-elected KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur opted to retain the provincial assembly seat he won from DI Khan.

The NA-119 Lahore-III seat was vacated after Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz went for the provincial seat which she had won, while NA-132 Kasur fell vacant after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif decided to retain his NA-123 Lahore-VII seat.

Moreover, the NA seats from Sindh's constituency, NA-196 Kamber Shadadkot-I was vacated after Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto retained the seat he won in Larkana.