Chief Election Commissioner Justice (R) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim chairing meeting of the Commission . — Photo by INP

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan has rejected the government’s plea for lifting a ban it had imposed on recruitment in all departments and on diversion of allocated developmental funds.

However, it has exempted from the ban constitutional bodies, including the Supreme Court, high courts, parliament and the Federal Ombudsman.

The decision was taken by the ECP at a meeting presided over by Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim here on Wednesday.

A participant of the meting told Dawn that over 20 requests from various ministries, divisions, departments and institutions for exemption on recruitment and diversion of funds would be examined on a case-to-case basis.

Exemption from the ban on recruitment has been sought by the Supreme Court; Federal Ombudsman; ministries of defence, interior, privatisation and textiles industry; cabinet secretariat; establishment division; the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa health and planning departments, revenue ministry, provincial assembly and Public Service Commission; Khyber College of Dentistry; Rawalpindi Institute of Cardiology; National Database and Registration Authority; Pakistan Agricultural Research Council, Balochistan home and tribal affairs department and Quaid-i-Azam University.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa planning department has sought exemption from the ban on recruitment as well as diversion of funds. The federal ministry of housing and works and the Punjab chief secretary have requested exemption from the ban on funds’ diversion.

The ECP will allow filling of posts advertised before Aug 31 last year.

The institutions given exemption will have to follow the procedure for induction to make the process transparent and ensure merit.

The commission will consider requests for diversion of funds to projects of strategic importance and on pleas of international donors.

Sources said the commission had received complaints about issuance of back-dated appointment letters and had served notices on some departments to explain their position.

“The ECP will proceed against those responsible if it is proved.”

Talking to reporters after the meeting, ECP Secretary Ishtiak Ahmad Khan said implementation of Articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution had been discussed.

He said he would meet officials of the Federal Board of Revenue, State Bank and provincial revenue departments next week to discuss how bank defaulters and tax evaders could be identified and screened out from the electoral process.

He said a mechanism was being worked out to screen out loan defaulters, tax evaders, proven fake degree holders and those who had wilfully concealed their dual nationality and had thus committed a corrupt practice. “These people will not be able to take part in the coming general election.”

The secretary said the ECP was in contact with the Higher Education Commission to obtain details of lawmakers holding fake degrees.

Replying to a question about demands being made for reconstitution or dissolution of the ECP, he said there was no room under the law for it. He said the Constitution guaranteed a five-year term for the chief election commissioner and the four members of the commission and they could be removed only through the procedure prescribed for judges of the superior courts.

He said the Election Commission had decided to go for delimitation of constituencies in Karachi in accordance with the directives of the Supreme Court and had sought a report from the Sindh election commissioner on ways of doing it. He said the ECP was awaiting the report and would take a decision after receiving it.

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