SC admits Qadri’s plea for ECP reconstitution
ISLAMABAD, Feb 8: A petition seeking reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) filed by Dr Tahirul Qadri has been accepted for hearing by the Supreme Court.
“In view of the important nature of the issues raised, touching (on) the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC)) and members of the Commission, the petition along with CM Application (for stay) be fixed on February 11,” said an order issued by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Friday.
With the general election round the corner, it is expected that the case will be taken up by a three-judge bench comprising the chief justice and Justices Gulzar Ahmed and Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Monday. After preliminary hearing, the court may order constitution of a larger bench to take up the matter.
Notices have already been issued for Monday to Attorney General Irfan Qadir and the petitioner who wishes to argue the case himself.
Legal analysts are attaching great importance to the petition, saying that serious issues raised in it may entail judicial intervention and delay the elections.
Talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court, senior counsel and Senator Aitzaz Ahsan expressed fears that heeding at this juncture to the demands of Dr Qadri, who had called for restraining CEC Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim and four members of the ECP from carrying out their normal functions, could delay the general election.
Any reconstitution of the ECP after removing the CEC and its four members would defer the general election for an indefinite period, he added.
In his petition, Dr Qadri has sought an order from the court for immediate reconstitution of the ECP and appointment of a new CEC. He has contended that the CEC and four ECP members had not been appointed in accordance with the provisions of Article 213 and 218 of the Constitution.
Hence all the appointments are void ab initio. The petition has also asked the court to restrain the ECP from carrying out its work.
Under Article 213(2a), the prime minister and leader of the opposition in the National Assembly are required to forward three names to a parliamentary committee (PC) for hearing and confirmation of one of them as the CEC. Article 218(2b) relates to the appointment of four ECP members by the president in a similar manner after proper hearing by the PC.
According to Dr Qadri, these requirements have not been met. The PC did not conduct hearing before confirmation of any of the ECP members. Thus the appointments were not done in the manner laid down in the Constitution.