Monday, September 12, 2011

Constitution of 1973

Constitution of 1973

The National Assembly which was elected in 1970 had also to prepare a constitution for the country. For this purpose, it formed a committee in its session held on 17th April, 1972, comprising all the representatives of the parliamentary parties. The recommendations of the committee were finally approved on 10th April, 1973 and assented by the President on 12th April. The constitution was not implemented immediately as the formation of Senate was essential as a constitutional requirement. The constitution was enforced on 14th August, 1973.

Salient features of the Constitution

The name of the Republic, according to the Constitution, is Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The territories of Pakistan have been specified in the Constitution. The Federation consists of the Provinces of Punjab, Baluchistan, NWFP and Sindh, Islamabad (the Capital under the direct administration of the Federal Government), Tribal Areas and all the territories which would be included in future. As regards East Pakistan, it was laid down in the original document that the constitution would be amended to give participation to the people of that province when the imprints of foreign aggression would wither away. But the territory of East Wing was eliminated from the Federal Territory through 1st Amendment of the Constitution and Bangladesh recognized as an independent state.

1. Preamble:
Islamic ideology was given de-jure recognition preliminary in the form of Objectives Resolution of 1949 and later incorporated in the Preambles of all the Constitutions of the Republic.

2. Nature of the Constitution:
The Constitution of the 3rd Republic, like its previous counterparts, is written as its major part has been reduced to writing. It consists of 280 Articles classified into 12 chapters and six schedules. The constitution is partly flexible and partly rigid. The proposal to amend it can be initiated in any of the Houses of the Parliament. If ratified by two-thirds majority of both the Houses and later assented to by the President, the constitution stands amended.

3. Federal System:
According to the pattern of division of powers, as worked out within federal structure, one list deals with all such affairs on which the Parliament has the power to legislate, while the other known as concurrent list, includes all matters on which both central as well as Provincial legislatures are authorized to enact laws. All residuary powers, dealing with matters not included in any of the aforesaid lists, belong to the provincial governments.

4. Parliamentary Form:
In the original constitution of 1973, such a parliamentary structure was introduced as could ensure predominant position of Prime Minister which was theoretically in line with the basic principles of this system. The position of the president was that of a titular head and the intention of the Framers was to make this office ineffective in order to avoid a situation similar to the one which existed under 1956 Constitution.

5. Bi-Cameralism:
Under both the defunct constitutions of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the central legislature was unicameral but bicameralism has been introduced in the 3rd republic. It is a common practice in almost all the federal states to keep two houses of the legislature in which the lower house is constituted on popular basis while the upper one represents the federating units on parity basis.

6. Independence of Judiciary:
Independence of Judiciary has been regarded indispensable for the enforcement of justice in a society. People can enjoy their rights and safeguards their interests effectively if the courts are free and impartial in dispensing justice.

7. Fundamental Rights:
The present constitution of Pakistan incorporates almost all the fundamental rights that were ensured under the defunct constitutions. These rights are to be enforced through superior courts. Neither the Parliament nor any provincial legislature is authorized to enact any law repugnant to fundamental rights; otherwise the Superior Courts have the power to declare such laws invalid.

8. Direct Method of Election:
The constitution of 1973 prescribes direct method of election to return the deputies to different legislative assemblies. But indirect method of election has been retained for the elections to the Senate. The underlying purpose seems to introduce different electoral base from that of the National Assembly so as to avoid duplication. Moreover, the Senate is expected to act as the guardian of the rights of the federating units, so the latter has been given the right to elect the Senators.

9. Economic Justice:
It has been reaffirmed in the constitution to implement a balanced economic system so as to eradicate all economic ills. It has been laid down in the Principles of Policy that government shall provide basic needs of life to all the citizens. For this purpose, private and public, both sectors have been given protection under the constitution.

10. Official Language:
Urdu has been prescribed as the national language. It has been made obligatory on the government to take proper steps for the introduction of Urdu as official language within fifteen years from the date of the commencement of the constitution.

11. Single Citizenship:
Dual citizenship exists in most of the federal states. Hence, rights and duties of citizens are determined by a federal constitution as well as under the constitutions of federating units. But all the citizens of Pakistan enjoy same rights and obligations in every part of the country. All rules relating to the citizenship are also governed by federal laws.

12. Holding of the Referendum:
The President is authorized to order for holding a referendum on any issue of national importance on his own initiative or on the advice of the Prime Minister.


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