A joint session of parliament on Wednesday approved amendments to Election Act 2017, granting additional powers to the caretaker government to take important decisions on the economy and engage with international institutions.
The joint sitting of the Parliament resumed at the Parliament House in Islamabad this afternoon with Speaker National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair.
The bill was tabled in the joint session by Parliamentary Affairs Minister Murtaza Javed Abbasi which was approved with a majority vote.
Speaking on the occasion, Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar told the House that the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms again held a meeting today and examined, specifically, the Section 230 of the Election Act vis-à-vis the caretaker government.
He said the intent is that the ongoing commitments with multilaterals and bilateral do not face hiatus as it negatively affects the economy.
The Minister said that there was a complete consensus among the committee members on the rest of the amendments.
The Joint sitting of the parliament today passed “the Elections (Amendment) Bill, aimed at ensuring free, fair and transparent elections in the country.
The bill empowers the caretaker government to take actions or decisions regarding existing bilateral or multilateral agreements or the projects already initiated under the Public Private Partnership Authority Act, 2017, the inter-governmental commercial transactions Act 2022 and the Privatization Commission Ordinance 2000.
Law Minister Azam Nazir Tarar clarified that no new powers are being given to the caretaker government. He said that amendments in the section 230 are aimed to ensure that the decisions already taken by the federal cabinet do not face any hiatus.
The bill envisages measures aimed at ensuring timely compilation and announcement of election results. Under the bill, the President Officer shall immediately take a snapshot of the result of the count and as soon as connectivity is available and it is practicable sent it electronically or through other appropriate technologies to the Election Commission and the Returning Officer before sending the original documents under Section 90.
The Returning Officer shall compile complete provisional results as early as possible and shall communicate these results electronically to the commission. In case the results are incomplete by 02.00 a.m. on the day immediately following the polling day, the Returning Officer shall communicate to the Commission provisional results as consolidated till that time along with reasons for the delay. In writing, while listing the polling stations from which results are awaited and thereafter shall send the complete provisional results as soon as compiled but not later than 10:00 a.m.
The bill further provides that officials of law enforcement agencies shall be posted for security duties outside the polling stations but in an emergency may be called inside by the President Officer to restore order and peaceful polling. Under the bill, the contesting candidates may use their existing bank accounts for election expenses.
The Law Minister said that under the bill, a period of six months has been given to decide election petitions.
The Joint Sitting has been adjourned to meet again on 7th of the next month at 11:30 a.m.