Islamabad—Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development & Transparency (PIDLAT) has raised questions on the performance of the National Assembly with regard to timely initiation of the procedure to appoint members of the Election Commission of Pakistan.
It was a well known that four members of the Election Commission would retire on June 12, 2016, but neither the Prime Minister Office initiated the process of consultation with the Leader of the Opposition nor the Speaker National Assembly constituted the Parliamentary Committee for the appointment of members of the EC in time, says the parliamentary watchdog in a statement here on Wednesday.
The Speaker constituted the Parliamentary Committee on June 14, two days after the four ECP members had retired and the EC had become dysfunctional. The lethargy on the part of both the Federal Government and the Speaker National Assembly in not initiating the process in time so that there would be no period in which ECP is dysfunctional is rather disappointing.
No meaningful progress was made in the appointment of members of the EC until July 14 when the Supreme Court directed to complete the ECP by July 27. It is the second time that the Supreme Court had to intervene to resolve the dysfunction of an important constitutional body such as the ECP. Who will be held responsible for rendering the ECP –one of the most important statutory body of Pakistan – dysfunctional for full 43 days and for stalling all the election-related activities?
The procedure, once instituted after inordinate delay, has also seen apparent flaws, adds PILDAT. Article 213 (2A) once read with Article 218 of the Constitution describes the procedure for the appointment of the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan and clearly mentions that the Parliamentary Committee will be responsible for hearing and confirmation of one name for each position.
This constitutional provision stipulates hearing as a necessary prerequisite of confirmation. The Parliamentary Committee has apparently not fulfilled its complete responsibility by confirming four names against four vacancies without any process of hearing. This, in PILDAT’s opinion, has rendered the process of selection of EC members vulnerable to legal challenges.