ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court yesterday gave the federation July 27 as deadline to complete Election Commission by appointing its four provincial members.

According to the 22nd Constitutional Amendment, ECP members have to be appointed within 45 days. In the instant case, the period is going to expire on July 27. Under Article 218 of the Constitution, the ECP comprises chief election commissioner and four members, one from each province.

Additional Attorney General Rana Waqar, representing the federation, said the tenure of the ECP members had ended on June 12.

Chief Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, heading a two-member bench which heard a suo motu case on non-performance of the Election Commission, remarked the institution had become dysfunctional as its new members had not so far been appointed.

The chief justice had taken the suo motu notice on media reports that after the end of the members’ tenure, the commission was unable to discharge the duties. Due to incomplete ECP, neither by-elections on vacant seats of the National and provincial assemblies and local government elections could be held nor could it issue notifications regarding returned candidates.

AAG Rana Waqar said consultation for appointment of the ECP members was going on with the opposition parties’ leaders. The chief justice said: “We are not concerned with consultation between the opposition and the ruling party. Enough is enough. The ECP members should have been appointed before June 12. When the government was aware that their tenure would end on June 12, why it did not start the process earlier? We won’t allow you (the government) to play with this issue as it is hampering the whole institution,” the chief justice further said.

The AAG assured the court of appointing the ECP members before 27th July. The chief justice said the purpose of the suo motu notice was that the commission should not remain non-functional.

According the legal experts, under the Constitution, it is the duty of the Commission and not that of the chief election commissioner to organise and conduct elections honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, besides stopping corrupt practices.

Meanwhile, the court adjourned the cases of Ch Muhammad Ashraf and PTI candidate Ch Fawwad until the first week of August. The chief justice held these petitions would be heard with the main case.

The same bench, hearing implementation of the election reforms case, directed the ECP to consult all the political parties on its proposals and submit a detailed report. The ECP secretary informed  they had chalked out some proposals to bring reforms like banning public rallies, wall chalking, posters, banners and billboards during poll campaigns.

Ahmed Awais, counsel for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, argued the court had already given its verdict pertaining to expenditures on elections. He pleaded holding of public rallies as part of election campaigns should also be banned. Justice Azmat, in a light vein, remarked: “If all election activities are stopped, also stop elections. If election-related advertisements are run only on the state-owned television, nobody will watch it.” The counsel said elections should be held, but extraordinary expenses must be avoided.