Senate adopts bill to amend Election Act 2017

Moved by PTI legislator, bill seeks to keep Ahmedis’ status unchanged with insertion of Section 48A


Danish Hussain November 07, 2017
Rule 61 (2A) of the rules of the Senate’s Procedure and Conduct of Business says that the prime minister would have to appear in the Senate at least once a week when the house is in session. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday unanimously adopted a bill seeking amendments to the recently passed Election Act 2017, with special emphasis on religious minorities.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf legislator Azam Khan Swati had moved the bill in the upper house.

Now, the standing committee of the house will take up the amendment bill for further deliberations.

Swati sought insertion of Section 48A (status of Ahmadis and others to remain unchanged) and an amendment to Section 241 of the Elections Act 2017.

“I have gone through the text of the bill and have no objection,” said Parliamentary Affairs Minister Sheikh Aftab.

Statement of objects and reasons of the bill stated that it was aimed to “prevent enlistment of intruders, who do not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH), as Muslims in the electoral rolls”.

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“Muslims in general and the people of Pakistan in particular never bear any intervention in this belief and that the state and its laws are bound to protect this basic belief of Islam,” it stated.

The proposed Sub-Section 2 of Section 48A says: “If a person gets himself enrolled as a voter and an objection is filed before the Revising Authority that such a voter is not a Muslim, the authority shall issue a notice to him to appear before it within 15 days to sign a declaration regarding his belief about the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH).”

The Sub-Section 3 stated: “In case the voter refuses to sign the declaration, text of which has also been proposed in the amendment, he shall be deemed as a non-Muslim and shall be enrolled as a non-Muslim voter in the same electoral area.”

While Sub-Section 4 stated: “In case the voter does not appear before the authority in spite of being served a notice, an ex-parte order may be passed against him.”

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While proposed Section 48A stated: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this act or any other law for the time being in force, the status of Qadiani Group or the Lahore Group (who call themselves Ahamdis or by any other name) or a person, who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him, the last of the prophets or claimed or claims to be a prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after Hazrat Mohammad or recognises such a claimant as a prophet or religious reformer shall remain the same as provided in the Constitution, 1973.”

Walk-out

The opposition members, including legislators belonging to Fata and the government ally Pakthunkhwa Milli Awami Party, staged a walkout from the house on Monday for not initiating debate on the issue of reservations of political parties over the census 2017 results.

PPP Senator Taj Haider sought permission of the chair to initiate debate on a deferred motion to discuss the situation arising out of reservations expressed by quarters concerned on the conduct of the census.

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The Senate chairman informed Haider that the minister concerned was on a 15-day leave and suggested him to move the item as an adjournment motion for a detailed discussion on it.

However, absence of the minister infuriated the opposition parties and they staged a walkout from the house.

Haider said it was a burning issue as the provincial assembly of Sindh had already unanimously rejected the results of the census.

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