ISLAMABAD - Following Supreme Court’s directive, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Wednesday announced a new code of conduct for holding elections in the country, curtailing election expenses of candidates and banning them to provide transport facility to voters. According to the new code of conduct, the contesting candidate will not exceed the limit of election expenses of Rs 1.5 million. The candidates will be bound to open an account with a scheduled bank to deposit Rs 1.5 million for election expense and all election expenditure will be made from the amount deposited in the account. No candidate will use any other sum or account to run the election campaign. The Supreme Court of Pakistan vide its Judgment dated June 8, 2012 passed in Constitution Petition (Workers Party Pakistan and others vs. Federation of Pakistan and others) had directed the ECP to take steps for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country. Following the said judgment, the ECP on Wednesday notified new Code of Conduct for conducting elections.
Election Campaign: 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 prescribe sizes. Posters: 2-feet x 3-feet, Hoardings: 3-feet x 5-feet, Banners: 3-feet x 9-feet, Leaflets/Handbills: 9-inches x 6 inches. 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.
Wall Chalking: Wall chalking as part of an election campaign shall be prohibited in all forms. The use of loudspeakers has also been banned, however, a candidate can use loudspeaker only in election meetings.
The new code says local administration shall be responsible for making appropriate security arrangements for all contesting candidates in such a manner that equal opportunities are provided to the contesting candidates interested in holding rallies and meetings. Establishment of camps near the polling stations on the polling day to canvass for votes, soliciting of votes, persuading any elector not to vote is completely banned with within a radius of 400 yards of the polling stations. No political party or a contesting candidate or an election agent or their supporters shall use any vehicle to take to or from the polling station any elector except himself and members of his immediate family. It says any violation of ECP code will be a corrupt practice, which will be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to Rs 5,000 or both within the meaning of Section 82 of the People Act. Also, three members’ teams, one of whom shall be a professional cameraman with a video camera, shall monitor the election process including campaign expenditure and observance of Code of Conduct by contesting candidates and political parties.
The teams shall report to the Provincial Election Commissioner concerned on a daily basis.
The real test case of ECP’s new code of conduct will be seen during by-election in NA-151 Multan on a seat vacated by ousted prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
The by-poll is scheduled to be held on July 19.
The ECP said in its notification that all contesting candidates of NA-151 had been directed to strictly follow the new code of conduct.