The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has given its approval to modifications in 18 clauses of the Election Rules, along with the introduction of five new forms. These changes are now subject to objections, which can be raised within 15 days.
Among the key alterations, candidates must now open a separate bank account exclusively for election-related expenses, and a joint account will no longer be acceptable. Additionally, returning officers are mandated to provide election results to candidates at the District Election Commission’s premises.
Another significant change involves the handling of postal ballots, which must be enclosed in separate packets before being sent to the relevant returning officers. If the ballots do not reach the ROs before the election day, they will not be counted.
Furthermore, if the election result is not announced by 2:00 AM, the RO must immediately inform the ECP and provide reasons for the delay. The RO will now be responsible for handing over the election results in the presence of all candidates, filling in forms 47, 48, and 49 for results before sealing them.
Under the amended rule, candidates are required to calculate their campaign expenses themselves and submit the details to the ECP. Additionally, the cost of filing election-related petitions with the ECP will be Rs100,000, with a mandatory decision timeframe of 180 days.
In case a candidate requests an adjournment of the petition’s hearing, they will be subject to fines ranging from Rs10,000 to Rs50,000. Furthermore, if a hearing is adjourned, it cannot be postponed for more than three days, according to another amended rule.
Political parties must now inform the election commission about their intra-party elections 15 days prior to the event and submit the results to the ECP within seven days after the elections. Any fines imposed by the election commission will be deposited into the national exchequer, according to yet another amendment