SC fixes appeal against CEC appointment for hearing

Three-judge bench led by Justice Bandial will take up appeal


Our Correspondent September 12, 2021
SupremeCourt of Pakistan. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has fixed for hearing an appeal against the registrar office’s refusal to not entertain a constitutional petition against the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja for Wednesday.

A three-judge bench of the apex court led by Justice Umar Ata Bandial will take up the appeal against the objections raised by the SC registrar office on the petition. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar are other members of the bench.

The development came a day after the government declared war on the CEC in the wake of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) raising reservations over the use of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the next general polls and a Senate panel rejecting amendments to the electoral reforms bill.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had accused the CEC of acting as a “mouthpiece for the opposition parties”.

The minister alleged that the CEC had been in close contact with former premier Nawaz Sharif and could have sympathy with him in a personal capacity.

Fawad said the ruling PTI wanted reforms in the electoral system in the country because whenever a party lost, it claimed that the elections were rigged and no one was satisfied with the results.

He added that the government had proposed the use of technology as the Supreme Court had also suggested doing so.

The ECP, in its 34-page letter submitted to chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs, wrote that EVMs could open up the possibility of "more sophisticated fraud" through the manipulation of software and hardware.

The commission underscored the need for considering the compatibility of EVMs with the existing constitutional and legal framework.

"The machine cannot prevent issues and electoral frauds like booth capturing, low women voters' turnout, misuse of state authorities, electronic ballot stuffing, vote buying, law and order situation, dishonest polling staff, widespread political and electoral violence, and abuse of state resources by incumbent parties.”

The ECP further noted that the system would be very costly, as there were around 100,000 polling stations and 400,000 polling booths.

Earlier, Ali Azeem Afridi Advocate filed a constitutional petition under Article 184 (3) of constitution, requesting that section 4 of the Constitution (Twenty-Second Amendment) Act, 2016 (XXV OF 2016); to the extent of allowing appointment of senior civil servant and technocrat as chief election commissioner and by treating them at par with that of the judge of the Supreme Court and on that score enabling them to superintend and supervise the role of member(s); under the robes as judges of the high court; be declared ultra vires of the constitution.

"Allowing appointment of the most senior member in age i.e. senior civil servant or technocrat; to superintend or supervise the role of a person who has been a Judge of a High Court given Section 7 of the Constitution (Twenty-Second Amendment) Act, 2016 (XXV of 2016)  be declared ultra vires of the Constitution."

The petitioner pleaded the apex court to declare the appointment of the incumbent CEC unconstitutional and non-est in the eyes of law.

The petition stated that the appointment of senior civil servant and technocrat as CEC; given its placement equally with that of a judge of the Supreme Court; impels novelty and outmode(s) the salient features; steering the constitution. However, the top court’s registrar office returned the petition by raising six obligations.

The registrar office noted that the petitioner had not mentioned how the issue was related to public importance. It further objected that the language of constitutional petition was ambiguous and misconceived as contents of the petition were interlinked.

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