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December 3, 2019

MPs’ body on appointment of ECP members meets today

Top Story

December 3, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The constitutional and legal experts have proposed the formula to end the deadlock between the government and opposition to save the Election Commission of Pakistan from becoming dysfunctional.

According to sources, during the meeting of Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser which was held on Monday, both had agreed on the formula to save the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) from becoming dysfunctional.

The meeting of the 12-member Parliament Committee on the Appointment of Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan would be held today (Tuesday) with the chair Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari in which 8 members from the National Assembly and 4 from the Senate and out which 6 members from government and 6 from the opposition participated.

Under the Parliamentary rules, the Parliamentary Committee is bound to make a decision with two third majority and it is only Parliamentary Committee, which instead of taking the decision through majority vote bound to take a decision with two third majority which means that the support of 8 members out of 12 members needed to approve any nomination and due to this, the committee failed to reach on any decision.

The Senate Chairman and Speaker National Assembly were agreed on the need to amend the rules of the Parliamentary Committee on appointment of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan with regard to taking a decision with two third majority and instead of making a decision through a majority vote to avoid the deadlock.

According to sources, under the first option of proposed formula, it was asked to Parliamentary Committee that it could agree on the name of two members of theElection Commission of Pakistan through a ‘give and take formula’ and they should agree on one nominee from government one from opposition out of six nominations.

For the two vacant seats of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan from Sindh and Balochistan, the opposition has suggested the name of of Shah Muhammad Jatoi, Muhammad Rauf Atta and Rahila Durrani from Balochistan and the names of Nisar Durrani, Justice (R) Abdul Rasul Memon and Aurangzeb Haq while the government has suggested the names of Dr Faiz Kakar, Naveed Jan and Amanullah Baloch from Balochistan and from Sindh the names of retired judges Sadiq Bhatti, Noorul Haw Qureshi, Abdul Jabbar Qureshi were presented.

As per constitution, the parliamentary committee has to agree on two names and for it the Speaker National Assembly and Senate Chairman has made the contacts with the government and opposition and asked them to agree on two names to avoid the Election Commission of Pakistan from becoming dysfunctional.

The quorum of the Election Commission of Pakistan is comprised of Chief Election Commissioner and three members and currently Justice (R) Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi from Punjab and Justice (R) Mrs Irshad Qaisar from Khyber Pukhtunkhwa while Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Raza Khan was about to retire on December 6 and to make the Election Commission of Pakistan functional the appointment of two members or one member is necessary.

The Islamabad High Court has already directed the Speaker National Assembly for the appointment of members of the Election Commission of Pakistan till December 5 and if the Parliamentary Committee agrees on two names on Tuesday, the crisis will be over but if not then the proposal of invoking of Article 264 of the constitution will be considered.

According to constitutional and legal experts there was no way forward to end the deadlock in the Parliamentary Committee as it was stated in Article 213 when any seat vacated in the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Parliament Committee will give approval from the list sent to it by Prime Minister and Opposition leader in the National Assembly but the constitution is silent if the deadlock persisted within the Parliamentary committee on the names.

Two meetings of the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Members of the Election Commission had already been held but ended in a deadlock and failed to reach any consensus and after it President Dr Arif Alvi on the advice of the Prime Minister has appointed two members of the ECP but Chief Election Commissioner refused to take the oath of the members.

After the refusal of the Chief Election Commissioner to take oath from the appointed members, the issue was shifted to the Islamabad High Court and Chief Justice Islamabad High Court suspended the appointment notifications and gave a time of December 6 to Senate Chairman and Speaker National Assembly to settle the issue of appointment of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser were agreed that the matter of the Parliament should not be referred to the courts and for this reason, they held the meeting on Monday to make the contacts with the government and opposition to end the deadlock as well as the crisis.

A proposal was being under consideration that if the Parliamentary Committee failed to make any decision in its meeting on Tuesday then under the Article 264 of the constitution, the Speaker National Assembly and Chairman Senate have powers as being a custodian of the house and having powers to regulate the Parliamentary Committees.

It was the discretionary powers of the Senate Chairman and Speaker National Assembly that if any Parliamentary Committee did not function properly then Speaker NA/Senate Chairman could issue guidance to the committee and re-constitute the committee.

Under the way forward formula, it was proposed to invoke Article 264 of the constitution, in which it was stated that where a law is repealed or is deemed to have been repealed, by, under, or by virtue of the Constitution, the repeal shall not except as otherwise provided in the constitution, revive anything not in force or existing at the time at which the repeal takes effect;” and in this situation Senate Chairman and Speaker National Assembly will send two names to Islamabad High Court by December 5.

However, Senior legal expert of PTI Dr Babar Awan did not agree on invoking Article 264 of the constitution and stated that “The Doctrine of Necessity’ could not change the constitution. “No one could use the right of other, which gives the constitution,” he said.

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