Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Legislative carts and horses in Islamabad: is timing everything?

Two interesting points came up in the course of the latest hearing in the Supreme Court of Pakistan's consideration of the validity of the 21st Amendment, which authorizes military courts to try certain offenses by civilians. First, did the Senate pass the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2015 before it passed the Constitution (Twenty-first Amendment) Act 2015? If so, the cart may have gotten in front of the horse. Second, did the President sign the measure prematurely? The Attorney General said he would clarify matters.

The answers to these questions could afford the Court a convenient way to avoid deciding the deeper and thornier question of whether a constitutional amendment can itself be unconstitutional.

Further details of the hearing can be found here.

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