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SC orders govt to appoint regular CEC in a fortnight

31 October, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected the plea of leader of opposition in National Assembly Khurshid Shah, who had sought three months for the appointment of the chief election commissioner.

The court gave the government and opposition a fortnight to make the relevant appointment. It said it should be done no later than November 13. A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk resumed hearing of the case of non-appointment of a regular CEC, something which has been pending since an year.

The apex court has already issued an order pertaining to the appointment of the new CEC after which the opposition leader had requested the court to extend the deadline. During hearing of the case, Khurshid Shah's lawyer Aitzaz Ahsan contended that the circumstances have remained uncertain in and outside parliament in the past two months and sought more time.

The court rejected the request to extend the deadline and ordered the government to appoint the new CEC in two weeks. Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk remarked that the position has been vacant since August 2013, which is affecting the matters of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The CJP observed that the court will withdraw its judge Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali as acting CEC after November 13. He said that the CEC was a constitutional position and appointment to it was a constitutional obligation.

"Electoral reforms have just begun; where were the consultations for the past one year and why hasn't the opposition leader been active for the appointment?" he questioned. The CJ remarked that the appointment of the CEC is a lingering issue and that consultation and electoral reforms are two different things.

Aitzaz Ahsan argued that a problem may arise after the electoral reforms as the procedure for the appointment of the CEC might change. However, Justice Nasirul Mulk responded that constitutional amendment would be dealt with, but the CEC should be appointed according to the present provisions.

On chief justice's inquiry if the prime minister too needed time for the appointment of the CEC, like the opposition leader, the AG expressed ignorance and assured that everything would be done according to the court's orders. "It means the PM needs no time," the CJ remarked

Khurshid Shah had submitted his response to the SC through Aitzaz Ahsan, stating that the CEC's is a constitutional position and the appointment should be done with the consent of the PM and opposition leader, which required three months. The case was adjourned till November 13.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court reserved its verdict regarding appointment of heads in the national institutions. Attorney General Salman Aslam Butt told the court that commissions are formed in other countries to appoint heads in national institutions and the government has also constituted a commission to appoint institutional heads.

End.

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