The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011

PILDAT Legislative Brief

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Publication No: ER-045

Rs 3,000  

The Election Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2011 offers a limited set of electoral reforms partly corresponding to the constitutional requirements after the passage of the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment. The draft bill proposes that Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs) issued by the National Database and Registration Autority (NADRA) to be the legal tender and made mandatory for the purpose of registration as voters or casting votes which is a welcome step. The bill, as a procedural change, shifts the authority of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) to the Election Commission in keeping with the constitutional change under the Eighteenth Constitutional Amendment which had substituted the ‘Commission’ for ‘Commissioner’ regarding the functions earlier assigned to the Chief Election Commissioner thereby strengthening the institution of the Election Commission and diluting the powers of an individual (CEC). The draft bill also provides for punishment with imprisonment (imprisonment for a maximum term of 5 years and or a maximum fine of Rs. 5 Million) for Election Commission employees breaching security or integrity of the electoral rolls database or publishing the information without authorization punishment, a move to protect the NADRA data sensitivity though the description of offences remains vague and needs to be more specific to avoid misuse. The draft bill also authorize the Election Tribunal to appoint a local commission for recording of evidence for speedy trial, a reasonable power though it may prove to be ineffective in resolving the chronic delays that can only be addressed through appointment of dedicated judges in the Election Tribunals.

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