ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court (IHC) will today resume hearing in three identical petitions challenging the appointment of two members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

A single bench of IHC comprising Chief Justice of IHC Justice Athar Minallah will conduct hearing of the petitions filed by two lawmakers and a lawyer Barrister Jahangir Khan Jadoon. The petitioners including Senator Mohammad Javed Abbasi and MNA Dr Nisar Ahmed Cheema are also members of the parliamentary committee that recommended names of ECP members.

On the previous hearing, Justice Athar appointed three eminent lawyers Hamid Khan, Khalid Anwar and Makhdoom Ali Khan as amicus curiae to assist the court with their legal opinion in this matter.

It was August 22 when President Arif Alvi appointed Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui from Sindh and Munir Ahmed Kakar from Balochistan against the two ECP positions, which had fallen vacant after completion of the terms of Abdul Ghaffar Soomro and retired Justice Shakeel Baloch from the respective provinces. The lawmakers challenged the notification issued by the President for the appointment of Siddiqui and Kakar as ECP members from Sindh and Balochistan, respectively. In their petitions, they argued before the court that since Prime Minister Imran Khan and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif had failed to develop consensus on the names of ECP members, the parliamentary committee on the appointment of the chief election commissioner and ECP members was deliberating upon the names for vacant positions in the ECP.

According to the petitions, it was a surprise for the lawmakers that instead of following the procedure laid down by the Constitution and the superior courts, President Alvi had made the appointments through his discretionary powers.

They pointed out that due to the “grave illegality, the chief election commissioner has refused to administer oath” to the newly appointed ECP members.

According to them, there is no constitutional provision which allows the president to appoint Siddiqui and Kakar by invoking his discretionary powers. After the passage of the 18th Constitution Amendment, the President has lost his discretion to appoint members of the ECP.