Tuesday Feb 21, 2023
ISLAMABAD: Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar said that President Dr Arif Alvi can only announce the date for the election of the National Assembly and not that of the provincial assemblies after their dissolution.
Alvi had no constitutional jurisdiction to announce the date for the elections of the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, and thus he has violated the Constitution, the minister said while speaking in the National Assembly.
He said Article 48 (5) of the Constitution allowed the president to announce the date for the election of the National Assembly after it was dissolved by him.
Article 48 (5) says: ”Where the president dissolves the National Assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of the dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the Assembly and appoint a care-taker cabinet."
Tarar said, "Article 105 (3) allows the governor to announce the date for holding the election to the respective provincial assembly if he has dissolved that assembly."
Article 105 (3) says: ”Where the governor dissolves the provincial assembly, notwithstanding anything contained in clause (1), he shall appoint a date, not later than ninety days from the date of dissolution, for the holding of a general election to the assembly and (b) appoint a care-taker cabinet."
The minister said that the Punjab Assembly was not dissolved by the governor because it stood dissolved 48 hours after the chief minister advised its dissolution. The governor had refused to sign the advice, he added.
Moreover, the president could not fix the election date as the matter was pending before a court of justice, he maintained. As per Article 218 (3), he said, it was the responsibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct the elections.
Article 218 (3) reads: “It shall be the duty of the Election Commission to organise and conduct the election and to make such arrangements as are necessary to ensure that the election is conducted honestly, justly, fairly and in accordance with the law, and that corrupt practices are guarded against."
The minister said that those talking about upholding the Constitution had themselves violated the Constitution in the past also.
The National Assembly was dissolved within three minutes by the president after the ruling of the former deputy speaker, which was later set aside by the apex court, he added.
He recalled that the president had even refused to administer the oath to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Earlier speaking in the House, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said, “The president’s announcement of the election date for the provincial assemblies is unconstitutional, and the law will take its course in this regard."
He alleged that President Alvi was "toeing his party's line".
According to the Constitution, the president could announce the election date for the National Assembly but not that for the provincial assemblies, he added.
National Democratic Movement’s Mohsin Dawar lamented that such a situation would not have arisen had the incumbent government taken those taking unconstitutional measures during the no-confidence motion to task.
Pakistan Peoples Party’s Syed Agha Rafiullah said the president had overstepped his constitutional domain.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Chaudhry Muhammad Barjees Tahir proposed the House to pass a resolution against the presidential move.
Meanwhile, taking part in the budget debate, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Abdul Akbar Chitrali said the increase in the general sales tax rate would push more people below the poverty line.
He said Pakistan could only be put on the road to progress and prosperity if it came out of the International Monetary Fund's debt trap.
He urged all the political leadership to deposit at least 50% of their wealth in the national exchequer to steer the country out of the prevailing economic crisis.
The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal’s Syed Mehmood Shah urged the chair to give his ruling for extending the duration of electricity supply from two hours to six hours for the farmers of Balochistan.
He pointed out that Urea and other agri-inputs were being exported to the neighbouring country illegally.
The PTI’s Nasir Khan Musazai said the supplementary budget would lead to higher inflation in the country.
Sardar Riaz Mehmood Khan Mazari and Nuzhat Pathan of the PTI also spoke on the budget.