Image: Penalty for taking part in illegal election processions will go up from Rs. 100 to Rs. 50,000.
Fines for election-related offences are to be drastically increased in a bill to be presented to Parliament shortly.
In terms of the proposed bill, already gazetted, fines for election-related offences are set to increase from anything between Rs. 50,000 and Rs. 400,000.
The Elections (Special Provisions) Bill proposes to increase fines for election-related offences by amending the Local Authorities Elections Ordinance, the Parliamentary Elections Act, the Presidential Elections Act and the Provincial Councils Elections Act. The bill also seeks to double the time period allowed for presenting election petitions from 21 days to 42.
The significant increase in fines is seen across all election-related legislation. For example, the penalty for taking part in illegal election processions will go up from Rs. 100 to Rs. 50,000. If a person who has been disqualified from voting by law is convicted of having voted illegally at an election, the fine imposed on such an individual will increase from Rs. 500 to Rs. 200,000. The fine for those found guilty of supplying or selling their official polling card to any other person too will increase from Rs. 500 to Rs. 200,000.
A Rs. 200,000 fine will be imposed on those who contravene provisions relating to secrecy at an election, by attempting to interfere with voters when recording their votes, obtaining information as to the candidate the voter is about to vote or had voted for, or inducing a voter to display the ballot paper.
Meanwhile, any person on whom civic disability has been imposed by a resolution passed by Parliament, and if he has participated in an election in any way prior to the end of the period of civic disability, including by way of canvassing for a candidate, is liable to be fined Rs. 400,000. This is a drastic increase from the prevailing fine of Rs. 1,000.