Senate passes election laws bill
ISLAMABAD: The members of the Senate on Tuesday demanded early constitution of the Election Commission as the House passed the Election Laws (amendment) Bill 2011 to make production of National Identity Card, issued by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), mandatory by the voters at the time of casting vote.
In response to concerns raised by the senators, the Law Minister, Dr. Babar Awan, said a parliamentary committee had been formed to constitute the Election Commission while the provinces were yet to send their nominations. But Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek immediately interrupted him, saying that following the passage of the 18th Amendment, it is for the prime minister to take the initiative in consultation with the leader of the opposition to forward three names to the parliamentary committee.
The observation made by the chair was also endorsed by chairman of the implementation commission, Mian Raza Rabbani, Wasim Sajjad and Professor Khurshid Ahmed who also said the government should go ahead with the setting up of the Election Commission to fulfil the constitutional obligation.
According to an amendment in Article 213 of the Constitution, in case there is no consensus between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition, each shall forward separate lists to the Parliamentary Committee for consideration, which may confirm any one name. Dr. Babar Awan also said the government had forwarded its list to the Parliamentary Committee.
Professor Khurshid Ahmed of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) said an election commission should always remain in state of readiness, as it was necessary that the next elections should be held in 2013. “The government is committing a violation of the Constitution by not constituting the election commission,” he said.
On this, the law minister assured the House that elections would be held in 2013 as envisaged in the Constitution. He said there was no provision of mid-term elections in the Constitution and those who did not participate in the last elections should wait for the next polls.
Mian Raza Rabbani said the Speaker might be requested to fix a day for the first ever meeting of the Parliamentary Committee. According to aims and objectives of the Election Laws (amendment) Bill 2011, the bill would ensure security and integrity of the database of electoral rolls and to bring the provisions in conformity with certain amendments in the Electoral Rolls Act 1974.
The bill also envisages imprisonment up to five years or fine up to Rs5 million or both to an employee of the commission for disclosing secret data or information. Senator Sughra Imam said all Computerised National Identity Cards (CNIC) issued before 2005 should be revised, as those cards did not have biometrics.
Source: The News