Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Haste makes waste

This article from International News Network raises an interesting question: did the Pakistani Parliament act improperly when it passed an amendment to the Army Act concerning military courts before the corresponding constitutional 21st Amendment bill was signed by the president? According to the article, the constitutional amendment had to be in force before Parliament could rely on it as authority for amending the Army Act. If that is so, then Parliament will have to repass the Army Act amendment following presidential signature of the constitutional amendment. The article explains:
The legal brains . . . largely ignored the Constitutional procedure for passing the two bills and the time gap required in between. The job was handed over to the Speaker who had no experience in amending the Constitution.
Technically speaking, the President does have the power to send the Military Bill back to the Parliament within ten days and the Parliament shall reconsider the Bill in joint sitting. But the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces can’t afford that this hour.
And in case he gives assent to the same Bill, he would only facilitate the legal challenge.
The Prime Minister’s craze for consensus and restriction on free debate and discussion has backfired. His political allies would now be looking for new companions.
This looks like a speed bump; the real question is whether, at the end of the day, the package will survive constitutional review on the merits.

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