ISLAMABAD (APP) - Chief Election Commissioner Justice Hamid Ali Mirza on Friday opined that by-elections held by him after 18th Amendment so far, and also to be held henceforth, are covered under the Constitution and law. Taking notice of ongoing debate in media that after passage of 18th Amendment, the ECP does not exist. Therefore, by-elections being conducted had no legal backing, the CEC described the process as valid and lawful. Meanwhile, mentioning to various provisions of the law as well as provisions of the 18th Amendment, EC Secretary Ishtiak Ahmed Khan explained that before the passage of 18th amendment the composition of Election Commission was; the Chairman, Chief Election Commissioner and four Members each of whom was a sitting Judge of High Court from each province in terms of Article 218 of the Constitution. Under Article 219 of the Constitution, the Chief Election Commissioner was charged with the following duties; preparing electoral rolls for election to the National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies, and revising such rolls annually; organizing and conducting election to the Senate or to fill casual vacancies in a House or a Provincial Assembly; and appointing Election Tribunals. On the other hand, the Secretary said, the Election Commission, consisting of Chief Election Commissioner and four Members, was charged with the duty of organizing and conducting the election and making such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against. In addition, he said, the aforesaid Articles 218 and 219 of the Constitution have been amended and the constitution and composition of the Election Commission has been changed. As per amended provisions of Article 218 of the Constitution, Ishtiak Khan said, each Member of the Election Commission will be a retired Judge of High Court from each province. The duties of the Chief Election Commissioner which were provided under Article 219 of the constitution have been given to the Election Commission. However, he added, the Chief Election Commissioner is continuing in his office till completion of his present term of three years, as also provided in Article 215 of the Constitution after the 18th amendment. The Secretary added that just after the 18th amendment, the matter with regard to the status of the Members of the Election Commission was examined and a reference was sent to the Ministry of Law and Justice for appointment of new Members of Election Commission. A summary in this regard was also sent to the Prime Minister. As regards the constitutionality and legality of holding by-elections after the 18th amendment), he said, when a seat in the National Assembly or in the Provincial Assembly becomes vacant, an election to fill such seat is required to be held within 60 days from the occurrence of the vacancy in terms of clause (4) of Article 224 of the constitution. Moreover, the Secretary said, section 108(2) of the Representation of the People Act, 1976 read with clauses (1) and (6) of Article 268 (Continuation in force and adaptation of certain laws) of the constitution empowers the Chief Election Commissioner to fill such casual vacancies. He said, this article provides; except as provided by this Article, all existing laws shall, subject to the Constitution, continue in force, so far as applicable and with the necessary adaptations, until altered, repealed or amended by the appropriate Legislature. Similarly, section (6) of this article provides; any court, tribunal or authority required or empowered to enforce an existing law shall, notwithstanding that no adaptation have been made in such law by an Order made under clause (3) or clause (4), construe the law with all such adaptations as are necessary to bring it into accord with the provisions of the Constitution. With regards to section 108 of the Representation of the People Act 1976, the Secretary said, for the purpose of holding an election to fill a casual vacancy in an Assembly, and, during the period when a Commission does not stand constituted for the purpose of section 107, reference in this act to the Commission shall be construed as reference to the Commissioner.