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No institution authorised to withhold ECP funds: former secretary

01 Dec, 2021
Former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad says it is beyond his understanding as to how the government will withhold the ECP’s funds, given that the Constitution has granted the authority (to the ECP). Screen grab
Former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad says it is beyond his understanding as to how the government will withhold the ECP’s funds, given that the Constitution has granted the authority (to the ECP). Screen grab

Former Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary Kanwar Dilshad has said no institution was authorised to withhold ECP’s funds, stressing that the country’s electoral body could launch a contempt case if such an attempt was made, Geo News reported.

“The ECP is a constitutional institution and enjoys the same protocols and powers as the Supreme Court. As such, it will obtain the funds from the Ministry of Finance under Article 222 of the Constitution,” he said while speaking on the news channel's programmeAaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’ on Tuesday.

Earlier, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said that funds would only be released if the next general election takes place via electronic voting machines (EVMs), stressing the parliament has made the law and the election commission and other institutions should follow it.

“The federal cabinet, while discussing the most important decision on the EVM, opined that after amendment in the [election] laws, it is mandatory for the election commission to hold all next by-polls through EVMs,” Fawad had said in a presser two weeks after the passage of bills related to electoral reforms from a joint sitting of parliament.

Dilshad served as ECP federal secretary from July 2004 to December 2009. At present, he is the chairman of the NDF, which is a think tank creating awareness on electoral laws and is associated with the United Nations.

“Article 222 of the Constitution of Pakistan (electoral laws) empowers the ECP to reject any amendments to the Election Laws 2017 even if they are passed by a joint session of parliament and all provincial assemblies, if they are against the provisions of the Constitution of Pakistan,” Dilshad had earlier told The News.

“No institution has the authority to decline funds to the Election Commission,” Dilshad said.

The ex-ECP secretary said that Article 222 states that “an act that is meant to curtail the powers of the ECP and the chief election commissioner will not be acknowledged.” Under this article, he added the ECP would not accept an act even if provincial assemblies, the National Assembly or Senate had passed it.

He added that it was beyond his understanding as to how the government would withhold the ECP’s funds, given that the Constitution has granted the authority (to the ECP).

“The ECP can file a case of contempt if its funds are withheld,” he asserted.