ISLAMABAD - Finance Minister and Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms Ishaq Dar said yesterday that the committee had evolved broader consensus on the appointment criteria of chief election commissioner and four provincial members of the electoral body and would be tabled for legislation before the Parliament in the next couple of days.

Talking to media after the committee meeting, Ishaq Dar said consensus was evolved on the qualification and appointment criteria of chief election commissioner and members of ECP and hoped that the legislation on it would be done during the current session of the National Assembly.

To a question, Dar said almost 90 per cent of work on overall electoral reforms and plugging lacunae in the prevalent electoral system was complete and soon the overall electoral reforms package would be tabled before the Parliament for legislation.

He further informed that the committee would meet again today (Tuesday) to fine tune the bill to be tabled before the National Assembly for bringing amendments in the constitution to alter the appointment criteria for the provincial ECP members due to retire on June 13.

The meeting would have further deliberations on the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill concerning the ECP today (Tuesday) to give it a final approval for legislation.

A member of the committee said it was decided in the meeting that members might have consultations with their party leadership and revert to the committee in the next meeting with their inputs for any changes in the proposed amendments.

At the outset of the 17th session of the committee, minutes of the previous meeting were approved by the members. The meeting discussed the divergent points to evolve consensus on it.

Sources in the committee confirmed to The Nation that the draft amendment bill to alter the appointment criteria for the members of the Election Commission of Pakistan was due by middle of next month.

Sources in the Parliamentary Committee on Electoral Reforms informed that it was proposed that now ECP would also hold local bodies’ elections, besides conducting the national and provincial assemblies’ elections.

A number of amendments were also proposed to make the ECP more administrative and financially independent, said a source aware of the deliberations of the meeting.

According to the proposed amendments approved by the committee, the CEC and its four provincial members could also be from other fields as well because under the existing laws it is mandatory that the Chief Election Commissioner as well as its members should either be retired or serving judges from the superior courts.

Now the CEC could either be a retired or serving judge of the Supreme Court while a person having qualification equivalent to superior court judge, a senior bureaucrat or a technocrat could also qualify for the post, a member of the committee informed.

About the provincial members of the ECP, the persons other than from superior judiciary with qualification to be a judge, a senior bureaucrat or a technocrat could apply for the post.

It was also decided that the members of the ECP would retire in rotation and in the first instance two of the four members would retire after two and a half years term and then in future after every half term of their mandated five years term two members would retire to keep the ECP functional.

It was further informed that amendments in Articles 222, 219, 218, 217, 215, 213 and 211 of the constitution would be incorporated to introduce these changes

At present, the appointment of CEC as well as ECP members is governed by Article 213 and 218 of the constitution.

The prime minister, in consultation with the opposition leader in the National Assembly, is required to forward three names each for appointment to every vacant position of ECP member “to a parliamentary committee for hearing and confirmation of any one person”.

In case, there is no consensus between the prime minister and the opposition leader, each of them shall forward separate lists to the parliamentary committee for consideration and confirmation of any one individual, as per the existing mechanism.

“The parliamentary committee to be constituted by the speaker shall comprise 50pc members from the treasury benches and 50pc from the opposition parties, based on their strength in [parliament], to be nominated by the respective parliamentary leaders,” says Article 213(2B) of the Constitution.

The total strength of the committee shall be 12 members, of which one-third should be from the Senate.