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May 20, 2016

NA approves the 22nd Amendment Bill

Top Story

May 20, 2016

Condition of only hiring judges as ECP members removed; powers of the chief justice with regard to acting CEC also taken away; members aged between 65 and 68 years to be hired for five years

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the 22nd Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2016 which envisages the qualification and procedure for the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC) and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

The condition of hiring of judges only as ECP members and powers of the chief justice with regard to the acting CEC have been removed in the amendment. The amendment envisages a five-year tenure for ECP members and their age at the time of hiring will be from 65 to 68 years.

In all, 236 members voted in favour of the 22nd Amendment in the Constitution and none against it. The 22nd Amendment provides that a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a senior bureaucrat or a technocrat of not more than 68 years of age can be considered for appointment as CEC.

The amendment also envisaged a retired judge of the High Court or a senior bureaucrat or a technocrat to be considered for appointment as a member of the Election Commission. Previously, only retired judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and High Courts were eligible to become CEC and members of the ECP respectively.

The bill said in case there was no consensus between the prime minister and the leader of the opposition over the appointment of the chief election commissioner, then both of them would send separate lists to the parliamentary committee for consideration. The committee would approve one of them.

The amendment provides that one member of the commission would be taken from each province. As a one-time exercise, two members of the commission shall stand retired after two-and-a-half years while the other two would retire after the next two-and-a-half years. An amendment in Article 222 of the Constitution details the powers of the Election Commission would be extended to include delimitation of constituencies of local governments.

The 22nd Amendment bill provides for 10 amendments in the Constitution.Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said it was a historic occasion that the 22nd Amendment was passed unanimously. They thanked and congratulated all the parties and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms for evolving a consensus and passing the bill.

Zahid Hamid said the 22nd Amendment bill had been prepared in the light of deliberations and consensus recommendations of the parliamentary committee. The law minister said electoral laws would soon be finalised by the committee.

Earlier, the government hardly managed to complete the minimum required strength of 228 (two-thirds of the total strength) in the House as the members continued shuttling between the National Assembly hall and the lobby.

The speaker had to make anmembers to come to the House and remain inside so that the procedure to pass the amendment bill could be initiated.  The National Assembly also passed the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The Nadra (Amendment) Bill would envisage merger of National Aliens Registration Authority (Nara) with Nadra to improve registration of aliens in the country. The amendments in Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act, 2012 would make the SEZ regime more investment friendly and encourage development of SEZs in Pakistan. 



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