IHC refers ECP appointments issue 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.

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, saying that the appointment of ECP members was not in accordance with relevant articles of the Constitution.

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

During the proceedings 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.

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

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

Justice Minallah said that the National Assembly speaker and Senate chairman should resolve the issue through consultations.

“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.

The court expressed confidence in the parliament to solve the matter, as Justice Minallah remarked: “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?”

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.