ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly passed the constitutional (22nd Amendment) Bill, 2016 unanimously on Thursday with two-third majority according to the eligibility criteria for appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
The bill was moved by Minister for Law, Justice and Human Rights Justice Zahid Hamid. At present the law only allows retired Judges of Supreme Court or High Court to be eligible for appointment as Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) or Members, respectively. Now after amendment, in addition to retired judges of Supreme Court or High Court, retired senior bureaucrats and senior civil servants and technocrats will also be eligible for appointment as CEC or a member.
In legal definition, a senior civil servant means a civil servant who has served for at least 20 years under the federal or a provincial government and has retired in BPS-22 or above. A person having 16 years of education and 20 years of experience can be called a technocrat. The law also fixed a maximum age limit of 68 years and 65 years for appointment as CEC and ECP members respectively.
In order to give representation to all provinces, four people will be appointed with one member from each province. Another important change brought by this amendment relates to the 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. Other amendments provide that delimitation of constituencies and preparation of electoral rolls for elections to local governments shall also be the responsibility of the ECP.
Speaking on the occasion, Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid congratulated the members for passing the bill unanimously. He said that the prime minister had written a letter to the speaker of national assembly to form a committee with consensus of all the political parties to prepare a comprehensive electoral package. He said that the electoral reforms committee held 18 meetings while sub-committee held 57 meetings in this regard. He added that they received 1,200 proposals and reviewed all of them unanimously.
Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Senator Ishaq Dar also congratulated the members for passage of the bill unanimously and termed it a historic day in parliamentary history of the country. The Bill will now be tabled before the Senate.