ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) admitted on Wednesday a request for a regular hearing filed against the appointment of two members of the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by President Dr. Arif Alvi using his discretionary powers.
President Alvi appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui of Sindh and Munir Ahmed Kakar of Balochistan on August 22 against two of the vacant positions previously occupied by Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired judge Shakeel Baloch from the respective provinces.
The chief commissioner of elections (CEC) refused to administer the oath to both designated members and wrote a letter to the ministry of law, noting that the appointment of PCE members did not agree with the relevant articles of the Constitution.
The CEC also cited the ruling of a bank of five members of the Supreme Court in 2013 who argued that the president did not enjoy discretionary powers in the appointment of the members of the CEC and the ECP.
The CEC refused to administer an oath to both designated members after the president appointed them using their discretionary powers
The CEC made it clear that it would not administer the oath to members designated "unconstitutionally" by the president.
Subsequently, the PCE secretary did not receive the joint reports of Mr. Siddiqui and Mr. Kakar.
The lawyer Jahangir Khan Jadoon questioned the appointments in the IHC, saying that the criteria for the appointment of the CEC and the members had been established in the Constitution and that the notification issued for the appointment of the members on August 22 violated articles 213 and 218 of the Constitution.
The petitioner said that due to the "serious illegality, the chief election commissioner has refused to administer an oath" to the newly appointed members.
He said there was no constitutional provision that allowed the president to appoint Siddiqui and Kakar invoking his discretionary powers. The petitioner said that after the approval of the 18th Amendment of the Constitution, the president had lost his powers of discretion to appoint members of the PCE.
The petition also claimed that the entire process of appointing members of the PCE had been marred by the violation of the Constitution.
He said that the initial consultation between the prime minister and the opposition leader did not take place in this regard. Then, a deputy secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent nominations to the opposition leader on behalf of the government, which were later withdrawn.
According to the petition, the president, the prime minister and the secretary of parliamentary affairs could not complete the constitutional process due to the bad fide and the five-member bank of the Supreme Court had specifically provided guidelines for appointments to the PCE.
The petition also said that the appointment of both designated members had been made without due process and that it was marred by nepotism and favoritism, and requested the court to annul these appointments.
The petition cited President Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, the secretary of parliamentary affairs, CEC, Mr. Siddiqui and Mr. Kakar as defendants.
After the initial hearing, the president of the IHC Supreme Court, Athar Minallah, admitted the request for a regular hearing and issued notices to the defendants and requested his response within fifteen days.
The court also notified the attorney general for the next hearing date on September 12.
Published on Dawn, August 29, 2019