WEB DESK: The National Assembly Thursday unanimously passed “The Constitution (Twenty-second Amendment) Bill, 2016” with a two-third majority to change qualifications and procedures for appointment of the Chief Election Commissioner and Members of the Election Commission of Pakistan and to provide for other related matters.
A total of 236 members cast their votes in favour of “The Constitution (Twenty-second Amendment) Bill 2016” moved by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid in the Lower House of the Parliament for its passage.
At present, only judges of Supreme Court or High Courts are eligible for the posts of Chief Election Commissioner and Members, respectively. But after this legislation, in addition to retired judges of the Supreme Court or High Courts, retired senior bureaucrats and technocrats will also be eligible for appointments as Chief Election Commissioner and members.
The legislation fixes a 68-year maximum age for appointment as Chief Election Commissioner and 65 years for a Member. In order to give representation to all provisions, out of four Members, one from each Province shall be appointed.
Another important change is related to continuity of the Commission, whereby instead of all four members retiring together, two of the members shall retire every two and a half years.
For the first term, the Commission will draw a lot as to which two members shall retire after the first two and a half years. The Bill also said that in case there is no consensus between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition over the appointment of Chief of Election Commissioner (CEC), both shall send separate lists of names to the Parliamentary Committee for consideration and the Committee shall approve one of them.
Another amendment provides that delimitation of constituencies and preparation of electoral rolls for elections to local governments shall also be the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan.
According to the Bill, amendment of Article 213 (2) of the Constitution, the following shall be substituted, namely:- “(2) No person shall be appointed Commissioner unless he has been a judge of the
Supreme Court or has been a senior civil servant or is a technocrat and is not more than sixty-eight years of age.
Explanation 1- “senior civil servant” means a civil servant who has served for at least twenty years under Federal or a Provincial Government and has retired in BPS-22 or above.
Explanation 2 – “technocrat” means a person who is the holder of a degree requiring conclusion of at least sixteen years of education, recognised by the Higher Education Commission and has at least twenty years of experience, including a record of achievements at the national or international level.
” In clause (2A), the following proviso shall be inserted, namely:¬ “Provided that in case there is no consensus between the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, each shall forward separate lists to the Parliamentary Committee for consideration which may confirm any one name.”
According to amendment of Article 215 of the Constitution in clause (1), for the proviso, the following provisos shall be substituted, namely:- “Provided that two of the members shall retire after the expiration of first two and a half years and two shall retire after the expiration of the next two and a half years: Provided further that the Commission shall for the first term of office of members draw a lot as to which two members shall retire after the first two and a half years: After clause (3), the following new clause shall be inserted, namely: – ”
(4) Vacancy in the office of the Commissioner or a member shall be filled within forty-five days.” Amendment of Article 218 of the Constitution.- In the Constitution, in Article 218, in clause (2), for paragraph (b), the following shall be substituted, namely: “(b) four members, one from each Province, each of whom shall be a person who has been a judge of a High Court or has been a senior civil servant or is a technocrat and is not more than sixty-five years of age, to be appointed by the President in the manner provided for appointment of the Commissioner in clauses (2A) and (2B) of Article 213.
After passage of the Bill, Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid and Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar said it is a historic occasion that the 22nd Amendment Constitution was passed unanimously.
They congratulated all the parties and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms for creating consensus and passing the bill. – Business Recorder