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Islamabad, February 23, 2015 (PPI-OT): A news story appeared in a section of press creating a wrong impression that ECP wrote a “secret communiqué” to its Returning Officers asking them to overlook section 20 of the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 which bars transfer of vote from one constituency to another once the election schedule is announced”.

The news story is misleading and therefore vehemently refuted. It may be clarified that the preamble of the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 clearly envisages the scope thereof by stating that it provides for the preparation and revision of electoral rolls for election to the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies and for matters connected therewith and incidental thereto and it does not mention about its extension to the Senate elections.

Section 20 of the Act which has been referred to in the aforesaid news item to contend that the same does not allow any change in the electoral roll (voters’ list) of a constituency after the issuance of election schedule therein to fill a vacancy is reproduced for ready reference:-

“20. No correction to be made after constituency called upon to elect. — No revision or correction of any electoral roll for an electoral area shall be made nor shall any order under section 19 be made in respect of any electoral roll at any time after the constituency of which such electoral area forms part has been called upon to elect its representative and before such representative has been elected.”

The perusal of aforesaid provisions of the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 shows that the spirit behind putting restriction on making any revision or correction in the electoral rolls after issuance of election schedule is to temporarily halt such changes in the voters’ list so that the existing list could be used for scheduled election and for that matter its copies could be made for supply to the candidates for campaign purpose; to returning officers for scrutiny of nominations, etc. and to presiding officers for conducting poll at their respective polling stations.

Needless to say that a voters’ list cannot be used for aforesaid purposes, if it is continuously being modified and there is no end to it. Whereas, no such need arises in case of Senate elections, as the voters in these elections are members of the National and Provincial Assemblies, who form the “Electoral College” for election to fill vacancies in the Senate.

Thus visualized, a province or the Federal Capital cannot be called a constituency as defined in the Representation of the People Act, 1976 and therefore the provisions of Section 20 ibid, by no stretch of imagination, can be said to be applicable to Senate elections.

It may further be pointed out that section 11(5) of the Senate Election Act, 1975 says that every proposal shall be accompanied by a certified copy of the relevant extract from the electoral rolls in which the name of the person nominated is enrolled. Section 13(3)(d)(iii) of above Act says that Returning Officer shall not enquire into the correctness or the validity of any entry in the electoral rolls.

It may be added that the Senate Election Act 1975 does not provide for any restriction of the type contained in section 20 of the Electoral Rolls Act, 1974 and therefore there is no provision that bars a prospective candidate to seek registration or transfer of his vote from one electoral area to another across the country before or after issuance of election schedule for Senate.

It may be stated that even in Senate Elections held in 2009 and 2012, applications seeking registration/transfer of vote after issuance of election schedule for Senate Election were entertained by the Election Commission in view of the aforesaid legal position and the instant decisions were taken in the light of such precedents.

For more information, contact:
Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
Election Commission of Pakistan Secretariat,
Election House, Constitution Avenue G-5/2,
Tel: +92-51-9201975, +92-51-9206062
Fax: +92-51-9205402, +92-51-9205300

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