Prime minister, CMs barred from by-election campaign
By Iftikhar A. Khan
ISLAMABAD: Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Hamid Ali Mirza has barred the prime minister and chief ministers from visiting the constituencies where by-elections are to be held.
The CEC has barred them from inaugurating or promising to inaugurate development schemes there, especially during the run-up to the by-polls. He also placed a ban on mass postings and transfers of civil servants at the time of elections.
In a directive issued here on Tuesday to the chief secretaries of the provinces, the CEC warned that legal action would be taken against those found to have misused their official position to influence the result of an election in any manner whatsoever, pointing out that the CEC under the law was empowered to initiate contempt proceedings under section 103A of the Representation of the Peoples Act, 1976.
“After the issuance of schedule of an election, the prime minister, chief ministers, federal ministers, state ministers, advisers to the president and the prime minister, provincial ministers and advisers to the chief ministers will neither visit the area of any constituency where an election is being held nor shall openly or in secret give any subscription or donation or make promise for giving such subscription or donation to any institution of a constituency, nor shall inaugurate, commit to undertake or announce any development project therein for advancement of the campaign of a candidate of his choice and thereby influence results of that election,” the directive says.
The directive was meant to ensure free, fair, impartial and transparent conduct of by-polls.
It has been highlighted in the directive that under Article 218(3) of the Constitution it was the duty of the Election Commission to organise and conduct an election and to make such arrangements to ensure that the election is conducted free and fair.
It was pointed out that Article 220 of the Constitution envisaged that it should be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces to assist the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commission in the discharge of his or their functions.
The executive authorities in the federation and in the provinces have been barred to use state resources anywhere in Pakistan for unfair advantage of a particular candidate or political party nor exercise undue influence affecting the interest of a candidate or party for participating in any future election.
The directive said if any person in the service of Pakistan misused his official position in any manner calculated to influence the results of the election, he may be tried by a Court of Sessions Judge under Section 95 of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 and, if found guilty of the offence, may be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to Rs2,000, or with both under Section 92 of the Act.
It says that individual transfers and postings of civil servants should also not be made after the issuing of schedule of an election except under exceptional circumstances, in exigency of service and in public interest, with prior approval of the Election Commission.