Government during Election: A Comparative Study of Pakistan, Bangladesh and India

Elections are the backbone of a strong Democratic process.
Free and fair elections and smooth transfer of power form
the basis of a stable democracy in any country.
The democratic process in the South Asian countries is in
an evolutionary stage as most of the countries in this region
gained their independence not more than sixty years ago.
The countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are still
strengthening their democratic systems by making
changes in their election processes and incorporating new
constitutional provisions as they feel the need during their
journey towards stable democratic societies.
In the past, some of these countries have gone through the
experiences of rigged and fraud elections. Such
malpractices were usually committed by the governments
in power by misusing their authority. These countries are
trying to tackle this problem by taking different steps and
strengthening the election rules which include making the
Election Commission more independent, inviting
independent observers, computerizing the system etc.
Since most of the election malpractices are attributed to the
partisanship of the government under which election is
held, the idea of a neutral caretaker government during the
election has been discussed and adopted in some
countries. This paper attempts to present an over-view of
the evolution of caretaker government system in Pakistan,
Bangladesh and India. It is hoped that the information
presented in the paper will be helpful in making the current
discourse on the subject of Caretaker government an
informed one.
What is a Caretaker Government?
In the parlance of institutional government, a caretaker
government is one which normally takes care of state
administration for an interim period until the regular new
government is formed. In established parliamentary
system, there is a convention of transformation of the
outgoing government into a caretaker government for the
time being before the holding of general election. Such
temporary government exists only to perform day to day
administrative jobs, and is not supposed to deal with policy
initiating functions which may influence the election results.
During the period the caretaker government maintains a
neutral status for ensuring free and fair general elections. In
the parliamentary framework, after the dissolution of one
ministry, the practice of establishing a caretaker
government for organizing general polls has been observed
in almost all democratic countries.
Provisions in the Constitution of Pakistan
According to the constitution of Pakistan, as it stands
following the Legal Framework Order (LFO) 2002, article
224 stipulates the provisions of a caretaker government.
The proviso added to article 224 (1) under the LFO reads as
“Provided that on dissolution of an Assembly on completion
of its term, the President, in his discretion, or , as the case
may be, the Governor , in his discretion but with the previous
approval of the President, shall appoint a care-taker
Article 224 (7) which was also added as a par t of the LOF
reads as follows:
“When a care-taker Cabinet is appointed, on dissolution of
the National Assembly under Article 58 or a Provincial
Assembly under Article 112, or on dissolution of any such
Assembly on completion of its term, the Prime Minister or ,
as the case may be, the Chief Minister of the care-taker
Cabinet shall not be eligible to contest the immediately
following election of such Assembly.”
These two clauses of Article 224 of the Constitution of
Pakistan do not expressly call for a non-partisan or neutral
caretaker governments but the fact that the Prime Minister
and Chief Minister will not be eligible to contest the election
introduces a certain degree of neutrality to the provision of a
caretaker government. It is however significant that this
ineligibility does not expressly extend to other members
(Ministers) of the caretaker government.
Another important thing to note is that the caretaker
government will be appointed in the sole discretion of the
President. No qualifications or limits have been placed on
this discretion.
It is also important to note that a continuity to the office of
the President has been provided. The President continues in
his or her office during the election for the National and
Caretaker Government during Election:
A Comparative Study of
Pakistan, Bangladesh and India

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