ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has given the federal government two weeks to appoint a permanent Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) – a post which cannot be left vacant in the absence of a permanent head of commission.
The three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, has threatened to withdraw the nomination of its judge, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who is presently acting as CEC if the federal government fails to appoint a permanent CEC.
Justice (Retd) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim, who was appointed as the 13th CEC, had resigned on July 30, 2013 -- a day after the presidential polls for which opposition parties accused the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) of failing to conduct impartial polls.
Justice Jamali is the third consecutive interim chief of the ECP in less than one year. Earlier, the incumbent chief justice and the outgoing chief justice, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, had performed as acting CEC.
Under Article 217 of the Constitution, the chief justice can appoint any judge of the SC as acting CEC.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt ensured the bench that the appointment of a permanent CEC will be made in 30 to 35 days.
The bench, however, rejected his stance and gave the federal government two weeks to fill the constitutional post.
The same bench has sought the schedule of Local Government (LG) elections from the government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) till next Monday, and also made it clear that the court’s judgment on delimitation does not apply in K-P.
The bench also hinted it may summon the chief ministers of Punjab and Sindh if both provincial governments do not complete the legislation to authorise the ECP to carry out the delimitation process for LG polls within two days.
The court expressed annoyance over both provincial governments regarding their failure for not completing the legislation process for LG polls for five months.
“You have done nothing since February,” the chief justice said to law officers of both provinces.
Advocate General Sindh Fateh Malik told the bench that the governor has shown reservations over the ordinance and had returned it without signing it.
“Why did you not present the bill in the assembly, and opt for ordinance instead,” the chief justice asked him.
“It was clearly mentioned in the court’s judgment that the process of legislation should be completed within five months. You would have still been inactive if the SC had not issued a notice,” the CJ observed. He further said that provincial governments successfully delayed the process for several months.
Meanwhile, Additional Advocate General Razaq A Mirza filed a reply in this matter, saying that the provincial government cannot legislate until the federation legislate this matter.
The bench, however, rejected this stance and directed the Punjab government to complete the legislation process within two days. It also directed the federal government to complete the legislation by the end of this week as well. Further the hearing was adjourned until Monday.
Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
For more information, please see our Comments FAQ