Monday, September 12, 2011

The role and powers of constitution

The President

The President is the head of the state and has been regarded as the chief spokesman of the republic. He is constitutionally the repository of the highest administrative authority of the federation which he can exercise in his own discretion or on the advice of the Prime Minister. Under the constitutional arrangements, balance has been maintained between the powers of the President and that of the Prime Minister, whereas in the original constitution, President has no effective say in the federal administration.

1. He must be a Muslim.

2. He should not be less than forty-five years of age.

3. He must be qualified to be elected as member of the National Assembly.

The President is to be elected by both Houses of the Parliament in a joint session and by the members of all the Provincial Assemblies. Hence, the method of election is indirect while the legislative bodies are to act as Electoral College. In case the office becomes vacant due to the death or resignation of the President, the new President shall be elected within thirty days.

The term of the office of the President is five years and he can be re-elected for another term but third term in succession has been disallowed. The President can also be removed prior to the termination of his tenure.

The President-elect cannot remain a member of the Parliament or that of a Provincial Assembly. In case a member of any Assembly is elected as President he has to resign from the membership. Under the constitution, he is not entitled to hold an office of profit in the service of Pakistan.

No criminal case can be registered in any court against the President in office, nor is any Court authorized for prosecution leading to his arrest. The President is also exempted from all civil proceedings in a civil court.

Powers of the President

The President was supposed to act as a constitutional head in the original constitution while Prime Minister virtually enjoyed all administrative powers. Hence the President has no discretionary authority and was expected to act only on the advice of the Prime Minister.

1. Executive Powers:
The President is the repository of the supreme executive authority of the federation which shall be exercised on the advice of the Prime Minister and his Cabinet.

a) Formation of Cabinet:
The most important function of the President is to appoint the Prime Minister. He invites the leader to form the Cabinet who commands the confidence of the majority of the National Assembly. The choice of the President regarding his nomination of Prime Minister has been curtailed so as to avoid his undue interference in practical politics. The President shall appoint other ministers on the advice of the Prime Minister. As a matter of fact, the formation of the Cabinet is the sole responsibility of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues shall remain in offices at the pleasure of the President. But the President can remove them only when he thinks that they have ceased to command the confidence of the majority in the National Assembly. He may ask the Prime Minster to get vote of confidence in the House. If the Prime Minister fails to do this, the Cabinet has to resign.

b) Discretionary Powers:
The President is authorized to ask the Cabinet to review its policy on a particular matter. It includes even such matters which have not been considered by the Cabinet, but dealt with by the Prime Minister or by any other minister. In the performance of his functions, the President can seek the advice of the Prime Minister or that of any other minister but is not bound to act accordingly.

c) Appointment:
In addition to the appointment of the Prime Minister and that of other ministers, the President also appoints a number of superior administrative officers. Appointments of ambassadors to different countries and that of the Chief Election Commissioner, judges of superior courts fall within the discretionary powers of the President. The latter appoints the Provincial Governors, after consultation with the Prime Minster. He can negotiate treaties with foreign nations. Being the supreme commander of the armed forces, he has to appoint Chief of Staff of all the three forces in addition to the appointment of Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee in consultation with the Prime Minister.

2. Legislative Role:
The highest legislative authority in the country is the President in Parliament. The President can summon, prorogue and even dissolve the National Assembly, ut the Senate cannot be dissolved. He can send special messages to any of the Houses of the Parliament conveying his proposals regarding any bill and the House are bound to consider it. The President can thus influence legislation.

Approval of the Bills:
All the bills passed by the Parliament got to be approved by the President. After the passage of a bill in both Houses of the parliament, it is sent to the President for his assent. The President within 30 days shall either assent to the bill or send it back to the House of its origin for revision. In case both Houses of the Parliament again pass that bill in a joint session by a simple majority vote, the President is bound to give his approval. Hence, the supremacy of the Parliament has been recognized at least in legislation.

3. Judicial Powers:
The President shall appoint Chief Justice and other judges of the Supreme and High Courts but he has to consult the respective Provincial Governor while making appointment of the Judges of the High Court. The President is fully empowered to grant pardon, reprieve or clemency. Any action of the President regarding the use of his constitutional powers can not be challenged in any court.

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