ECP

Electoral college for presidential poll cannot be deemed incomplete, stresses Election Commission

The board outside the premises of the Election Commission of Pakistan. — ECP website/File

  • Electoral college cannot be deemed incomplete, says electoral body.
  • ECP underscores Achakzai’s failure to object during scrutiny stage.
  • Voting underway in assemblies for election of 14th head of state.

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has turned down the application filed by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-backed Sunni Ittehad Council’s (SIC) presidential candidate Mahmood Achakzai seeking a delay in the election of the head of state.

“In exercise of powers conferred upon it [commission] under Articles 218(3) and 41 of the Constitution read with Second Schedule and further read with Presidential Election Rules,1988, decline to delay the Election to the office of the President and reject the application of the petitioner,” the electoral body’s order signed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja and others read.

Achakzai on Friday had written to the CEC seeking a postponement in presidential polls slated for Saturday (today) contending that the electoral college as “prescribed by law and Constitution” for a presidential election was “still incomplete” because “some reserved seats” in the National Assembly and all provincial assemblies are still vacant.

The presidential candidate, who’s contesting against Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari for the top office, added that the electoral college cannot be completed till the seats are filled. He added that till the seats are not filled the presidential polls would be “illegal, unlawful and against the spirit of the Constitution”.

ECP EXPANATION

He also mentioned the Peshawar High Court (PHC) stay order on the reserved seats which he believes would give a “clear verdict” in favour of the PTI-backed party.

With the voting for presidential polls underway in the Parliament House and all four provincial assemblies, the ECP, in its detailed order, said that the electoral college cannot be deemed to be in-complete for any vacancy (ies) under present circumstances.

“Although the provision of section 130 pertains to the election of members of the Senate there is no direct provision on the same issue in the Constitution or the Presidential Election Rules, the Honourable Supreme Court of Pakistan in a plethora of judgements has held that if no provision pertaining to an issue is available in the Constitution or statute, then reference can be made to other provisions of the Constitution or the Statute for the purpose of interpretation.

“The Election to the office of the President is a Constitutional Imperative in terms of Article 41 of the Constitution and cannot be delayed beyond 30 days. The Electoral College cannot be deemed to be in complete for want of vacancy (ies) because recently 22 MNA(s)/MPA(s) have vacated the seats whereby they were elected from more than one seat,” the electoral body’s order noted.

Highlighting Achakzai’s failure to raise any objection to the alleged incomplete electoral college, the ECP stressed: “Had it been the intention of the framers of the Constitution that the Electoral College(s) shall be incomplete for want of vacancies for election to the Office of the President, it would have been provided expressly in the Constitution.

“In the absence of any express bar, it can be safely presumed that the very existence of the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies is a complete Electoral College notwithstanding any vacancy,” it concluded.

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