The Islamabad High Court sent the ECP members’ appointment case to the parliament. The Senate chairperson and National Assembly speaker have been instructed to take efforts to finish the deadlock between the government and the opposition.
Chief Justice Athar Minallah said that this is a matter of public interest. “Do you want ECP to stop functioning?”
An additional attorney general told the court that petitions regarding the case have been filed in Supreme Court as well as courts in Sindh and Lahore.
The judge asked if the parliament can’t even solve minor problems anymore?
On August 22, the government issued a notification that Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui has been appointed as a member from Sindh while Munir Ahmed Khan Kakar from Balochistan. The two posts have been lying vacant since January 26, after the retirement of Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and Justice (retd) Shakeel Baloch. The law requires the posts to be filled in 45 days.
President Arif Alvi had appointed two members to ECP to fill vacant posts after seven months. However, the electoral body did not administer oaths to them, claiming that their appointments were unconstitutional. The opposition had criticised the step taken by the president too. Since then, a deadlock has been continuing between the government and the opposition over the matter.
A PML-N member, Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, filed a petition in court challenging their appointment. He has argued that the appointment was a direct violation of the Constitution, adding that the notification issued on August 22 should be blacklisted. He said that he wrote a letter to the National Assembly speaker over the matter but didn’t get any response.
The petition argues that Prime Minister Imran Khan should suggest new names for the post if the opposition and the government can’t agree on the old names.
Previously, members of the electoral body were appointed by the president but after the 18th Amendment was passed, the appointment process required that the government and opposition to be on the same page.
A parliamentary committee comprising 12 members was set up for this purpose. Whenever there is a vacancy, the prime minister in consultation with the opposition leader is required to submit three names to the committee for confirmation. If the PM and the opposition leader do not agree on three names, they are then required to submit separate lists.
The committee is responsible for choosing the person by a simple majority vote and forwarding the name to the president for approval.