Controversy over nominating ECP members

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Lack of transparency

With the four ECP members taking oath on Wednesday a controversy has arisen about the process of their nomination. It is being maintained that their confirmation was marked by lack of transparency and failure to follow the mandated constitutional procedure. It is also being suggested that the two constitutional consultees i.e. the prime minister and the leader of the opposition did not bother to nudge the National Assembly speaker to appoint a parliamentary committee well before the retirement of four ECP members on June 12. The neglect on their part led to the ECP becoming dysfunctional for over a month. The two moved only when ordered by the Supreme Court to complete the process of the appointment of the four ECP members by July 27. The government and the opposition leader managed to finish the task at the 11th hour.

Both the government and opposition kept their respective lists of names close to their chest. These still remain a secret. The criterion for adopting or rejecting the names has not been spelled out. Filling the positions in constitutional bodies is a matter of public interest and has therefore to be transparent as is the custom in democracies. That the parliamentary committee took just two hours to reach the decision indicates two things. First, an understanding had already been reached between the two major parties and the committee only endorsed the selections. Two Article 213 (2A) requiring a hearing as a pre-requisite for confirmation was not followed.

On Wednesday the ANP termed the confirmations as “a deal between two political parties”, maintaining that it was not consulted on ECP members. The PTI’s central information secretary has said his party will not oppose the nominations but expressed doubts over the lack of discussion on the party’s nominee for Punjab. The lack of transparency and failure to strictly abide by the constitutional provision has provided a handle to parties to challenge any ECP decisions not liked by them. The consultees have thus made the ECP vulnerable.