- 236 members vote in favor, no vote cast against the 22nd Amendment; Amendment gives final word to parliamentary committee if PM, opposition leader can’t agree on a decision
- All provinces to have one representative each in the committee; Bureaucrats, technocrats, serving judges can now be named members of the commission, in addition to retired judges
The National Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed the 22nd Amendment in the Constitution of Pakistan. The bill aims to amend the procedure for the appointment, qualifications and other prerequisites for the chief election commissioner and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The amendment also sets the maximum age limit for the chairman and members at 68 and 65 years, respectively.
Every province will be represented in the Election Commission as one member each will come from every province. Previously, all the members of the Commission retired on the same day, after the 22nd amendment the EC will work around the year. During the 5 years term two members will retire after 2.5 years and the other two will retire after 5 years. For the first term, the Commission will draw lots to choose the two members to retire after 2.5 years.
The amendment titled, “The Constitution (Twenty-Second Amendment) Bill, 2016” was introduced in the house by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid.
Previously, the constitution stipulated that only former judges of the Supreme Court or High Court were qualified to be considered to become members of the Chief Election Commissioner. However, after the amendment a retired judge, or an on-duty one, a former senior bureaucrat and even a technocrat can be made members of the Election Commission.
In case the prime minister and the leader of the opposition do not reach a consensus over the person to be appointed as chief election commissioner, both will send separate recommendations to the parliamentary committee for consideration, whose decision in this regard will be deemed final.
Finance Minister, Ishaq Dar who also chairs the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms and Law Minister Zahid Hamid congratulated the nation and said that the passage of the bill unanimously is a historic moment in the country’s constitutional history.
After the 22nd amendment the preparation of electoral rolls for the election of local bodies and delimitation of previous constituencies will be the responsibility of the Election Commission as well. Previously, in the absence of the chief election commissioner, the second senior most judge of the Supreme Court would become the acting CEC. After the amendment the senior most member of the Election Commission will act as the acting CEC.
The current four members of the Election Commission of Pakistan will retire on June 10.
Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid and Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar said it is a historic occasion that the 22nd Amendment in the constitution has been passed unanimously.
They congratulated all the parties and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms for creating consensus and passing the bill.
Zahid Hamid said electoral laws will soon be finalised by the committee.
Earlier, the House suspended the question hour to take up legislative business.
The 22nd Amendment Bill amended articles 211, 213, 215, 217, 218, 219 and 222 of the Constitution of Pakistan.