Irked by govt’s lethargy, SC withdraws acting CEC

  • SC rejects govt request for extension in deadline for appointment of permanent CEC, withdraws Justice Jamali as acting CEC
  • AGP tells court all parties except PTI have reached consensus on name of former judge for post


Rejecting the government’s request to extend the deadline for appointment of chief election commissioner (CEC), Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Nasirul Mulk Monday withdrew the nomination of Supreme Court (SC) judge Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali as acting CEC with effect from December 5, following which the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is feared to become inactive if the appointment for the ECP hot seat is not made by that time.

The three-member bench of apex court headed by the CJP and comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Dost Muhammad Khan resumed hearing of the case regarding CEC’s appointment and made it clear that in case of non-appointment until December 1, the court will consider issuing notices to the prime minister as well as leader of the opposition in National Assembly for an explanation.

Appearing on notice, Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Salman Butt said that that the government and majority of opposition parties had agreed on the name of a retired judge for the slot but Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had raised objections over the nomination.

He said the consultation process had resumed between the prime minister and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly Khursheed Shah, but Shah went abroad which led to further delay. He however stated that the opposition leader would be back in two days and requested the court to provide some more time enabling the government to implement its orders.

The CJP raised objection over the delay, noting that there should be no excuse further, while Justice Gulzar Ahmad noted that nothing had been done seriously to this effect and asked the attorney general to bring the notification regarding the CEC appointment.

“In this modern era, contact can be established with Shah in Europe. We understand your sincere efforts. Can you place these efforts on the record?” Justice Gulzar asked the attorney general.

The court reminded the attorney general that during the last hearing, the court had it clear that if there will be no appointment then it will withdraw its judge, who is performing duty as acting CEC. Later, the court adjourned the hearing till December 01.

Following the hearing, the Supreme Court issued an administrative order and recalled services of Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali.

The secretary Election Commission has been informed in this regard.

Justice Jamali is the third consecutive interim chief of the ECP in less than one year. Previously, the incumbent and outgoing Chief Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani had performed as acting CEC.

Meanwhile, Dr Abdul Basit, a senior lawyer, said while talking to the media that the withdrawal of SC’s judge as acting CEC was in violation of the Constitution, adding that no constitutional post can remain vacant.

Moreover, the issue of LB polls would also be taken up on December 1. In the last hearing on November 13, the KP government was directed to inform by December 1 whether it would introduce biometric system in one district or the whole province for local government polls.