IHC orders matter of ECP members’ appointments be sent to parliament

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday ordered that the issue of the appointment of two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) be sent to the parliament.

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During the hearing of a petition challenging the appointments, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that the National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman should “end the deadlock” and prevent the ECP from becoming “non-functional”. Additionally, the high court said a written order was to follow.

President Dr Arif Alvi, on August 22, appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui from Sindh and Munir Ahmed Kakar from Balochistan against two of the vacant posts previously held by Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch from the respective provinces.

The chief election commissioner (CEC) refused to administer the oath to both members-designate and wrote a letter to the law ministry, deeming the appointment of ECP members not in accordance with relevant articles of the Constitution.

Subsequently, the IHC admitted a petition filed by Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon, challenging the appointments, for regular hearing.

During the hearings today, today, Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman told the court that petitions regarding the ECP appointments had been submitted in the apex court, the Sindh High Court and the Lahore High Court.

Justice Minallah inquired during the proceedings, “This is a matter of public interest, do you want to make the election commission non-functional?”

Saying that the ECP had become “almost non-functional”, he asked: “Can the parliament not even solve such a small issue?”

The NA speaker and Senate chairman should resolve the issue through consultations, remarked Justice Minallah.

“Does the federal government still want to defend the deadlock?” the IHC chief justice asked, in response to which the additional attorney general said that he should be granted permission to ask the federal government for instructions.

“Who will say that this matter should not be solved in the forum of the parliament? Constitutional institutions should not be non-functional; does the government want this?” Justice Minallah remarked, expressing confidence in the parliament to solve the matter.

Prior to the hearing today, the secretary of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs submitted a reply in the court on behalf of the federal government, requesting the IHC to adjourn proceedings on the petition till the Supreme Court issued its verdict on the matter.

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