ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated on Friday the Judicial Commission Ordinance 2015, paving the way for the formation of a commission that will investigate Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) allegations about widespread rigging in the 2013 general elections.

The ordinance describes the composition and scope of the work of the commission, to be constituted by the chief justice of Pakistan.

Since the ordinance was mutually agreed upon by the government and the PTI, it is expected that the former will request the Supreme Court to form the commission next week.

It is the sole prerogative of the chief justice to establish the commission, which will consist of three apex court judges.

The Prime Minister’s Office had sent the draft of the ordinance to the president on Thursday evening and it was believed that the president would sign the document on Thursday night. Some private TV channels prematurely reported that the president had signed the ordinance.

The promulgation of Judicial Commission Ordinance-2015 ends almost nine months of political confrontation between the government and the PTI, during which time the latter remained camped outside parliament for over 100 days.

It is also expected that the PTI, which refused to sit in parliament as part of its protest, may return to the National Assembly soon.

The draft of the ordinance was agreed upon between the government and PTI on Wednesday and was announced by the leaders of the sides in a joint press conference at the Punjab House.

According to the ordinance, a judicial commission of three Supreme Court judges will be formed at the request of the government by the chief justice of Pakistan to investigate allegations of rigging in the general elections.

There will be a chairman of the commission, to be nominated by the chief justice from among the three members. If the chief justice is a member of the commission, he will act as the chairman.

The commission will have power to regulate its own procedure, including fixing the time and place of its sittings.

According to the ordinance, any political party that participated in the general election 2013 and any other person will have the right and opportunity to submit evidence or material and make submissions for consideration by the commission.

It will be the duty of all executive authorities in the federation and the provinces to assist the commission in the discharge of its functions and to comply with any of its directions. The federal government shall provide all necessary funds and facilities to enable the commission to perform its functions.

The commission shall have the power to form one or more special investigation teams consisting of officers from the relevant executive authorities, including the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI), and the Intelligence Bureau (IB).

The ordinance states that any public servant who was appointed by or assisted the Election Commission in respect of the organisation or conduct of the general elections 2013 shall be deemed to be an executive authority.

The commission shall submit its final report to the federal government as expeditiously as possible and, preferably, within 45 days of its first meeting. The final report shall be a public document and on the submission of its final report the commission will stand dissolved.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2015

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