Senate panel opposes involving judiciary in CEC’s appointment

Updated 14 Jul 2020

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Lawmaker asked to withdraw bill submitted in upper house. — APP/File
Lawmaker asked to withdraw bill submitted in upper house. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary pan­el on Monday opposed involving the judiciary in the appointment of the chief election commissioner (CEC).

The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice urged the mover, retired Lt Gen Abdul Qayyum, to withdraw the bill he had submitted to the Senate. The bill proposed referring the issue of appointment of the CEC to the Supreme Court if the executive failed to reach a consensus on the nomination.

The committee members Farooq H. Naek, Dr Musaddiq Malik, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Mian Raza Rabbani, Walid Iqbal, Sana Jamali, Zeeshan Khanzada and Mohammad Ghous Mohammad Khan Niazi opposed the bill seeking a constitutional amendment to change the mechanism for CEC’s appointment.

The move was the result of the failure of Prime Minister Imran Khan and opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif to reach a consensus on the names of the chief election commissioner and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Lawmaker asked to withdraw bill submitted in upper house

Gen Qayyum’s move was in response to the month-long deadlock in the appo­intment of the CEC and two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan that led to the litigation.

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah, instead of adjudicating the matter, had referred the matter to parliament.

Senator Naek pointed out that the judiciary did not want to intervene in the matter and it would be unwise if parliament legislated and empowered the Supreme Court to have a final say in the appointment.

Taking part in the discussion, Mr Walid Iqbal said that it was a good luck that the case was heard by IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah and he took a wise decision, adding that he was not sure what would be the outcome if the matter was heard by the Supreme Court.

Law and Justice Secretary Khas­hiur Rehman informed the committee that the IHC had set precedence in the matter by acknowledging that parliament, being the supreme institution of the country, should decide such matters on its own.

Later, Senator Javed Abbasi, chairman of the committee, urged Gen Qayyum to withdraw the bill and amend it as advised by Mr Rabbani and Mr Naek.

Other members of the committee were also of the view that instead of referring the matter to the Supreme Court, a committee, headed by the Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker, should resolve the controversy if it arises in future.

The committee also examined a bill tabled by Mr Naek seeking an amendment to the guardian and wards laws. The committee also discussed recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology and referred the matter to the law ministry for its perusal.

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2020