ISLAMABAD: National Assembly of Pakistan is likely to see the much-awaited electoral reforms bill today, which could strengthen the shape and structure of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and ensure credible polls.

A parliamentary committee on electoral reforms was formed by the government and headed by the Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in 2014. The committee drafted the bill after speculations for more than two years.

It took 118 to finalize the electoral reforms. 25 of the main parliamentary committees and 93 of its sub-committee were headed by Law Minister Zahid Hamid.

Various political parties and citizens presented some 631 proposals. The Business Advisory Committee of the National Assembly met last Tuesday and concluded that the draft electoral reforms bill would be presented in the Assembly House.

With a combination of previous eight different laws, the parliamentary committee has formed the Election Bill 2017. The bill proposes new measures in different areas of electioneering to further give the rights to the ECP for holding free, fair and transparent elections in the country.

Under the bill, full administrative powers to control and transfer election officials during elections and the authority to take absolute disciplinary actions against them for misconduct will be under ECP.

Powers to create posts within approved budgetary allocations and other full financial powers will be under the commissioner. The ECP is also being empowered to make rules without prior approval of the President or the government; as such rules will be subject to prior publication, seeking suggestions within 15 days of such publication.

Moreover, the ECP shall ready a comprehensive action plan six months prior the elections defining all legal and administrative responses that have been taken or are required to be taken.

A transparent Results Management System for expeditious counting, compilation and dissemination of the election results shall be established by the ECP too. Redressing complaints and grievances during various stages of the election process are also being authorized to the ECP.

The ECP is also being empowered to install surveillance cameras in highly sensitive polling stations for remote monitoring of activities in such polling stations. It has also been empowered to delegate its functions to its members and officers.

Submission of annual Wealth Statement in the same form as submitted under the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 will be required by every member of an Assembly or Senate. The ECP may suspend membership of the defaulting Member and if the default resumes for more than 60 days, it shall issue show cause notice for termination of his/her membership. The Commission shall inspect the wealth statement and incase it is found to be false, the Commission may direct prosecution of the Member for the offence of corrupt practice.

For election conflicts, the system has been made more effective and result-oriented by including facilities like case management; day-to-day trial; mandatory costs for adjournments; suspension of the member for deliberate delay; and decision within four months.

Issuance of a Code of Conduct for political parties, candidates and election and polling agents may also be done by the ECP.

The ECP shall take special actions to encourage participation of women in the electoral process, including registration of women voters and actual voting on polling day. The ECP shall also start awareness media campaigns for registration of women voters, and their participation in elections. Political parties shall motivate women membership and award at least five percent of their party tickets to women candidates on general seats.

If the variation in the number of men and women voters in a constituency is more than 10 percent, special measures will be taken by the ECP to reduce such variation. At the end, people with any physical disability will also be able to cast their votes through postal ballot.