Retired Justice Altaf Ibrahim Qureshi on Friday took the oath as the acting chief election commissioner (CEC), a day after the retirement of retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza as CEC.
According to Article 217 of the Constitution, the most senior member in age of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) acts as the CEC if:
- a) the office of the CEC is vacant
- b) the CEC is "absent or unable to perform the functions of his office due to any other cause"
A senior official of the ECP earlier told Dawn that many important activities of the poll body, including revision of electoral rolls and scrutiny of political parties’ funds, will come to a complete standstill while conduct of any by-polls and preparations for local government elections will also come to a halt.
Acting CEC Qureshi will not be able to form a bench to hear any complaint as the minimum strength of a bench under the existing law has to be three. This means all cases of defection and disqualification will remain pending till the appointment of a new chief election commissioner.
On Thursday, the government finally proposed three names for the post of new chief election commissioner. The government’s nominees are: incumbent ECP secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh Muhammad, former federal secretaries Fazal Abbas Maiken and Arif Ahmad Khan.
The parliamentary committee on appointment of CEC and ECP members will meet on Tuesday to consider the three names each proposed by the government and the opposition for the positions of CEC and ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif had proposed the names of Nasir Mehmood Khosa, Jalil Abbas Jillani and Ikhlaq Ahmed Tarar for the post of CEC. He had also proposed the names of Nisar Durrani, retired Justice Abdul Rasul Memon, former registrar of the Sindh High Court, and Aurangzeb Haq as ECP member from Sindh.
For the office of the ECP member from Balochistan, he suggested the names of senior Supreme Court lawyer Shah Mohammad Jatoi, former advocate general Mohammad Rauf Atta and Raheela Durrani.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had proposed the names of retired Justice Sadiq Bhatti, retired Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi and Abdul Jabbar Qureshi for the post of the ECP member from Sindh.
For the office of the ECP member from Balochistan, the prime minister recommended the names of Dr Faiz Kakar, Mir Naveed Jan Baloch, a businessman and a former caretaker minister in the provincial government, and former district and sessions judge, Quetta, Amanullah Baloch.
On Thursday, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) issued directions for the parliament to resolve the deadlock over the appointment of members of ECP within 10 days.