Islamabad -  The Election Commission of Pakistan has taken notice of news reports about a Punjab Assembly MPA for ‘violating’ secrecy of vote during the election on a vacant seat of the Senate.

The ECP has sought a report from the returning officer (RO) for further action. Under section 183 of the Election Act,  the ECP can punish the violator of section 178 with two years imprisonment and Rs100,000 fine in addition to suspending his/her membership. The RO soon after the incident cancelled the vote of the MPA for not abiding by the rules relating to the secrecy of the vote.

The ECP has decided that the ROs would hold summary trial in case of capturing of polling station, deliberate tampering of ballot paper, taking ballot paper out of polling station or handing it over to some irrelevant person, using a fake ballot paper, breaching secrecy of ballot paper, revealing priority of vote to a candidate or candidates or taking any step calculated at compromising transparency of the polls, and punish them under Sections 174, 184 and 185 of the Election Act, 2017.

The ROs have been directed to ensure that the polls take place in a peaceful manner. In case of any irregularity or mismanagement, they have been authorized to bring the matter to the knowledge of the commission and suspend the electoral process.

Meanwhile, the ECP also decided to deploy the Rangers and Frontier Corps contingents outside assemblies during Senate elections slated for March 3.

“In order to conduct Senate elections 2018 in all the provinces and the federal capital Islamabad in a peaceful manner and to avoid any untoward incident on the poll day, the Election Commission of Pakistan, in terms of Article 220 and 245 of the Constitution has decided for deployment of sufficient strength of Pakistan Rangers /Frontier Corps outside the premises of provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Parliament House, Islamabad,” the ECP said earlier.