ISLAMABAD - As the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have agreed to form a commission to probe allegations of rigging in the last general elections, it (the commission) may be given powers to decide whether it wanted to form a special investigation team (SIT) comprising intelligence agencies or simply do not seek assistance from any agency in its inquiry.

Similarly, it will not be binding for the commission to probe allegations of rigging within 45 days as publicly claimed by some PTI stalwarts that probe will be completed within 45 days.

Under the proposed draft of the ordinance agreed between PML-N and PTI and circulated to the other parliamentary parties, it will not be mandatory for the inquiry commission to form any special investigation team comprising intelligence agencies, including ISI, MI IB and other government bodies, including Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) and others.

The Section 6(2) of the proposed ordinance that will be named as General Elections 2013 Inquiry Commission Ordinance, 2015 says that the commission shall have the powers to form one or more special investigation teams consisting of officers from the relevant executive authorities, including the Federal Investigation Agency, the National Database and Registration Authority, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, the Directorate for Military Intelligence and the Intelligence Bureau, for the purpose of assistance in the inquiry.

Both PML-N and PTI in the proposed agreement have agreed that in case the commission exercises the powers under Section 6(2) of the ordinance, the heads of the special investigation teams shall be appointed by the federal government after consulting PTI.

The PML-N further has agreed that non-controversial and non-partisan professionals shall be appointed as heads of Nadra and FIA and that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary shall be replaced after consultation with PTI after fulfilling requirements of the process.

Section 9 of the proposed ordinance says the ordinance will override other laws. Subsection 1 of Section 9 says that subject to sub-section 2, the provisions of this ordinance shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force. Sub-section 2 of Section 9 says that the conduct of the inquiry, submission of its report and exercise of its functions under the ordinance by the commission shall not prejudice in any manner whatsoever any pending election petition relating to the General Elections 2013 or appeal arising therefrom or any orders passed in such a petition or appeal or any proceedings thereof before any election tribunal or court, which shall all continue and be decided in accordance with the applicable law.

Furthermore, its section 10 says that notwithstanding anything contained in this ordinance, the relevant laws, the provisions of the Constitution and rules under which the General Elections 2013 were conducted shall continue to determine, interpret and govern the said elections.

The Section 3 of the ordinance explains the scope of the inquiry conducted by the commission that will be called as the General Elections 2013 Inquiry Commission and says, “(1) The Commission shall determine whether or not the 2013 General Elections were organised and conducted impartially, honestly, fairly, justly and in accordance with law; and the 2013 General Elections were manipulated or influenced pursuant to a systematic effort or by design by anyone; and the results of the 2013 General Elections, on an overall basis, were a true and fair reflection of the mandate given by the electorate.”

The commission shall have all of the powers of a criminal court under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, and of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908. It shall have powers to require any person or authority to furnish information or documents on such points or matters as, in the opinion of the commission, may be useful for, or relevant to, the subject-matter of the inquiry.

The commission shall have the same powers as the Supreme Court to punish any person who abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of the commission in any way or disobeys any order or direction of the commission.

Subject to the Constitution, in the performance of its functions the commission may, if it considers appropriate, examine and consider any document, material or evidence relating to the 2013 General Elections.

Section 5 of the commission explains procedure to be followed by it and says that the commission shall have the powers to regulate its own procedure, including the fixing of place and time of its sittings. Subsection 2 of Section5 says that subject to the Constitution, in the exercise of its functions under this ordinance, the commission shall follow such procedures, including summary procedure, where necessary, as it deems fit and proper in the interest of justice to complete its inquiry and give its determination pursuant to sub-section (1) of Section 7.

Under Section 7, the commission shall submit its final report on the matters set out in Section 3 to the federal government as expeditiously as possible and, preferably, within 45 days of its first meeting. The final report shall be a public document.

The commission shall comprise three judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to be constituted by the chief justice of Pakistan on the request of the federal government. The federal government shall submit such request no later than three days after the commencement of the ordinance.

Both PML-N and PTI have also agreed that in case of any dispute or disagreement with regard to the implementation of the accord, the matter shall be referred to a ‘Dispute Resolution Committee’ comprising six persons, three members to be nominated by each party.