CEC gives president Alvi short shrift

Alvi seeks legal opinion from law ministry



ISLAMABAD  -  The Election Commission of Paki­stan [ECP] yesterday conveyed to President Arif Alvi that the coun­try’s top election body is empow­ered to fix the schedule of gener­al elections.

In response to the President’s letter, Chief Election Commission­er (CEC) Sikandar Sultan Raja ar­gued that the meeting with the President over the schedule of polls would be of “scant impor­tance” after amendments in the election law.

President Arif Alvi in his letter to the CEC the other day had asked to hold a meeting with him as he (president) was obliged to ap­point a date not later than 90 days from the date of dissolution of the National Assembly.

The Chief Election Commission­er, in his response through a letter said that participating in such a meeting would be of “scant impor­tance” after changes to the elec­tion law. In the letter addressed to the president, the chief of elec­toral watchdog said it was im­perative to point out that Sec­tion-57 of the Elections Act had been amended due to an act of Parliament, which had empow­ered the Commission to “an­nounce the date or dates for the general elections”.

“Where the president dissolves the National Assembly, in his dis­cretion, as provided in Article 58(2) read with Article 48(5) of the Constitution then he has to appoint a date for the general elections. “If the assembly is dis­solved on the advice of the prime minister or by afflux of time as provided in Article 58(1) of the Constitution, then the commis­sion [ECP] understands and be­lieves that the power to appoint a date or dates for elections rests exclusively with the Commis­sion,” the letter reads.

It added, “The commission be­lieves with utmost respect that the reliance placed on the pro­visions of the Constitution men­tioned on your subject letter are not applicable in this context.”

The CEC also said that the de­limitation of constituencies, af­ter the approval of the digital census, was one of the founda­tional legal steps towards hold­ing elections in the country.

He said that the ECP was tak­ing its responsibility of holding general elections in the country very seriously and had also invit­ed major political parties to give their views on the electoral map.

“Notwithstanding the de­clared position of the Commis­sion referred herein above. it is stated with all reverence that the Commission holds the office of the president in high esteem and it has always been an hon­our to meet and seek your kind guidance on national issues at an opportune time.

“In view of the above, the Commission is of the consid­ered view that participation in the meeting would be of scant consequence,” he conveyed in the letter to the President.

It may be noted here that the President a couple of months before had unilaterally an­nounced April 9 as the date for elections to the Punjab and KPK assemblies.

Soon after receiving the let­ter from the CEC, President Arif Alvi approached the Federal Law Ministry for legal and con­stitutional opinion.

An official communiqué from the Presidency said President Alvi wrote to the secretary of the Law Ministry and sought his opinion on the CEC letter.

Sources in the Law Ministry confirmed that a letter by the President has been received and the Ministry is expected to give a reply to the President within two days after consulting its le­gal team.

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