CEC appointment: Khursheed Shah requests SC for three-month extension to deadline

ISLAMABAD, Oct 28 (INP): As the Supreme Court’s two weeks deadline regarding the appointment of permanent Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) expired Tuesday, Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Khurshid Ahmad Shah has requested the supreme court, seeking a three-month extension for the completion of the process.

The Supreme Court on October 14 gave the federal government two weeks to appoint a permanent CEC, or else it will withdraw its judge, Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who is currently serving as acting CEC.

Justice Jamali is the third consecutive interim chief of the ECP in less than one year. Earlier, the incumbent chief justice, Nasirul Mulk, and his predecessor Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had served as acting CEC.

Under Article 217 of the Constitution, the chief justice can appoint any judge of the SC as acting CEC. Justice Jawwad S Khawaja was offered the slot in July, this year – but he had excused himself.

During the last hearing, Attorney General for Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt had assured the court that the appointment of a permanent CEC will be made in 30 to 35 days. The bench, however, insisted that the government fill the constitutional post within two weeks. Now the court will take up the matter on October 30.

Two senior parliamentarians and lawyers Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan and Mian Raza Rabbani have filed an application in the apex court on behalf of Shah.

The application notes that Article 213 (2A) of the constitution provides that the prime minister in consultation with the leader of opposition in the NA shall forward three names for the appointment as commissioner to a parliamentary committee for hearing and confirmation of one of any one them, adding that those, who could be referred for confirmation, have been mentioned in Article 213 (2).

“The ‘consultation’ to be effective, meaningful and consensus oriented always requires more time especially when the ‘office’ of the appointee is constitutional and/ or as important and independent as that of ‘Chief Election Commissioner’

The applicant further  says that in the instant case, both he and the prime minister are considering the ‘best candidates’ and are also looking into other legislative steps to help in this process as part of larger span of ‘ election reforms’ which are already underway.“There is intense public interest in such reforms and the process is underway”

The application further states that in the process, the applicant and PM would like to get all parliamentary parties and civil society on board in the best national interest to ensure fool-proof mechanism for free, fair and transparent election in future.

“This could be at the cost of some, probably about three more months but at the same time this would benefit the country and nation as a whole in the long run”

INP

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