ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court Tuesday directed the federal government to appoint chief election commissioner by October 28 otherwise it would consider withdrawing its judge acting as CEC.

The court ordered the Punjab and Sindh governments to pass bills amending election laws and empower the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for carrying out delimitation for the local government polls by October 16 and if the provincial governments failed to do so, the chief ministers of the provinces would be summoned.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government was ordered to hold a meeting with the ECP and finalise LB election schedule on October 16. The court said the KP Assembly could enact laws regarding delimitation by ECP for future elections.

The attorney general revealed the ordinance to empower the ECP for carrying out delimitation was with the president. The court ordered him to issue the ordinance by the end of this week.

The apex court on March 19, 2014, had directed the federal, Punjab and Sindh governments to make appropriate amendments/legislation to empower the ECP to carry out delimitation of constituencies within five months, while the ECP had been ordered to carry out delimitation process within 45 days of enactment of laws and amendments in the existing laws.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk, was hearing a case regarding holding of local government elections in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and three provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Local government elections were held in Balochistan last year owing to the Supreme Court pressure.

During the proceedings, the chief justice asked Attorney General Salman Butt why the CEC had not so far been appointed. He sought 35 days for doing the needful, but the bench asked him to appoint chief election commissioner within two weeks. The AG contended that consultation was required for the appointment of CEC. The chief justice remarked the consultation should not take so much time as it involved only two persons, the prime minister and leader of the opposition. The CJP said, “If the appointment is not made within two weeks, we will consider withdrawing the SC judge from the Election Commission.”

Earlier, Sindh Advocate General Fateh Muhammad informed the court that they had prepared draft law for amending the local government election laws in the province. This draft amendment was sent to the Sindh governor belonging to a different political party, who kept it with him for three months and returned the same without signing it. The bench directed the Sindh government to table the bill in the provincial assembly for amending the local government election law by October 16. Punjab Additional Advocate General Razzaq A Mirza told the bench that the draft to amend the election laws and empower the ECP to carry out delimitation of constituencies had been prepared and sent to ECP. He added the federal government had been written a letter about it and response from there was awaited.

Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry asked Razzaq A Mirza whether the ECP had approved the draft. The AAG replied that due to ambiguity in the judgment they had written to the federation. The bench also ordered the Punjab to table the bill in this regard on October 16, 2014, otherwise they would summon the chief minister. Raza Mirza stated that the assembly was not in session. The chief justice said the bill could be tabled and the session summoned. KP Advocate General Latif Yousafzai said they were awaiting the launch of delimitation process by the ECP in the province in view of the SC judgment. The chief justice held the judgment did not apply to the KP government. Yousafzai said if the judgment did not apply to them, the KP government had completed delimitation and could immediately write to the Election Commission to hold LB polls. Regarding local government elections in Islamabad, the attorney general said the ordinance to empower the ECP for carrying out delimitation was ready and had been submitted to the president for his signatures, which would be done within a week. However, the court ordered him to issue the ordinance by the end of this week. The case was adjourned till next Monday.

CEC to be appointed on reform body’s recommendations: Khursheed

INP adds: Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khursheed Shah has said that they respect the Supreme Court and its decisions would be implemented but pointed out that they want to review afresh the system of appointment of Chief Election Commissioner in the under consideration electoral reforms.

Talking to media persons here on Tuesday, he said that he would present his recommendations and reasons in the delay of CEC’s appointment in the Supreme Court. He said the CEC would be appointed on the basis of the process that is decided in the electoral reforms. Khursheed Shah demanded transparent judicial inquiry of the deaths in a stampede that occurred during Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) Multan rally within two weeks time. He said it must be made clear if the responsibility of the incident lies upon the administration of the rally or the district administration.