ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has taken a significant step to ensure the smooth execution of the upcoming general elections in 2024 by granting magisterial authority to District Returning Officers (DROs) and Returning Officers (ROs). According to a notification released on Friday, this delegation of powers is in accordance with Section 193 of the Election Act 2017.
The magisterial powers bestowed upon DROs and ROs empower them to act as first-class magistrates during the general elections for national and provincial assemblies in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Balochistan. This authority remains effective until the official announcement of final results for the candidates.
The delegated magisterial powers enable ROs and DROs to take action against candidates found in breach of the code of conduct set forth by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
These designated officers can exercise the powers of a first-class magistrate in relation to offenses defined in Sections 169 and 171, taking cognizance of any such offense under Section 190 of the code of criminal procedure. Offenses will be tried summarily under Chapter XX of the code.
In conjunction with this development, the Federal cabinet issued an official notification, deploying Pakistan Army personnel across the country to perform duties at sensitive constituencies and polling stations during the general elections in 2024.
Under Article 245 of the Constitution, the army will be deployed nationwide from February 5 to February 10, serving as a quick response force outside sensitive polling stations. The deployment of Army personnel is a strategic move aimed at ensuring transparency and peaceful polling processes.
Additionally, the notification specifies that Civil Armed Forces will also be stationed at the Printing Corporation of Pakistan and the Pakistan Post Foundation. These combined efforts reflect a comprehensive approach to maintaining law and order and upholding the integrity of the electoral process during the upcoming general elections.