ISLAMABAD - The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced implementing its code of conduct for the general elections in pursuance of Supreme Court directives with effect from the upcoming by-poll in Multan scheduled next month.
In its June 8 judgment, the apex court had instructed the ECP to ensure regulating electoral expenses incurred during every candidate’s election campaign. The court had further observed the ECP was obligated to ensure that transparent electoral process was followed truly and justly in accordance with law and any violations during the conduct of elections were to be taken to task. Besides, the court had given detailed guidelines to the ECP for eliminating foul play in polls.
The ECP on June 12 had announced implementing the SC judgment in letter and spirit.
Moreover, in the notification number F8 (12)/2012 issued Wednesday, the ECP cited Article 218(3), Article 220, related provisions of Representation of the People Act 1976 and the apex court’s June 8 judgment to justify exercise of its powers for the conduct of free and fair elections and elimination of foul play.
According to the notification, the contesting candidates for the general elections shall not exceed the prescribed limit of 1,500,000 rupees for election expenses. Each candidate for a National Assembly seat would be required to open a bank account not later than tomorrow June 29 and deposit Rs 1,500,000 therein. All the election expenditures shall be incurred out of the deposited amount in the said account.
Important details of the code of conduct are as follow: No political party or a contesting candidate or an election agent or their supporters shall use any vehicle to convey to or from the polling station any elector except himself and members of his immediate family. Car rallies are not allowed to travel long distances except if they have pre-arranged corner meetings at specific designated places. These meetings shall be notified to the ordinary public by the local administration. The local administration must also ensure that all candidates are accommodated indiscriminately.
No person or a political party shall affix posters, hoardings or banners larger than the sizes prescribed below: Posters: 2 x 3-feet, hoardings: 3 x 5-feet, banners: 3 x 9-feet and leaflets/handbills: 9 x 6 inches. Loudspeakers shall not be used for election campaign except at the election meetings.
Wall-chalking as part of an election campaign shall be prohibited in all forms. No person or a political party shall hoist or fix party flags on any public property or at any public place, except with the permission in writing from, and on payment of such fee or charges as may be chargeable by the concerned local government or authorities.
All transactions relating to the election expenses shall be entered with General Sales Tax (GST) registered firms. Each contesting candidate shall file a declaration to the above effect on or before the June 29, 2012 after issuance of this directive with the returning officer. Each contesting candidate shall submit to the district returning officer on every Thursday of the campaign period, a statement of election expenses made by him during the preceding week.
The political parties and candidates shall convey their schedule of meeting at least one week in advance to the local administration. The contesting candidates shall follow the code of conduct for the political parties and contesting candidates issued for General Elections 2008 except in so far as it is inconsistent with this directive and the June 8 judgment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Establishment of camps near the polling stations on the polling day by the political parties, the contesting candidates or their supporters is banned. Canvassing for votes, soliciting of votes, persuading any elector not to vote at the election or for a particular candidate, or exhibiting any notice, sign, banner or flag designed to encourage the electors to vote or discourage the electors from voting for any contesting candidate is prohibited within a radius of 400 yards.
No political party or a contesting candidate or their supporters are allowed to distribute chits containing voters’ details or any chit containing symbol of a political party or contesting candidate near or in the vicinity of polling station on the polling day within the radius of 400 yards of the polling station. Three-member teams comprising a professional cameraman carrying a video camera in every team shall monitor the election process including campaign expenditure and observance of code of conduct by the contesting candidates and political parties.
According to the ECP, the directives on the code of conduct would be implemented during July 19 by-poll in National Assembly’s Constituency NA-151 Multan-IV. The same NA seat had fallen vacant last Tuesday due to the disqualification of Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani as Pakistan’s Premier.