Carving out new provinces: Parliament’s power challenged
LAHORE: The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notices to federal and four provincial governments on a writ petition challenging power of the parliament to carve out more provinces.
Federation of Pakistan through the law secretary, senate chairman, national assembly speaker and four provinces – Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan – through chief secretaries have been made party to the petition.
Taking up the petition Justice Sheikh Ahmad Farooq also directed the respondents to file their written replies by the second week of September.
Petitioner Malik Naeem Iqbal of Okara through his counsel contended that an impression had been created among the masses that new provinces could be created by invoking powers of the parliament through article 239 of the Constitution.
He said a bare reading of article 239 did not envisage creation of new provinces but vested power in parliament to alter the limits of the provinces only. He said the federation comprised autonomous units which could not be destroyed through an amendment.
The federal structure consisted of autonomous federating units which was an essential component and part and parcel of the basic structure of the Constitution.
The petitioner stated that the parliament had the power to add more territories on the terms and conditions decided by it but no new province could be carved out of the existing ones.
The present parliament was not a constituent assembly and though it could amend the Constitution, it had no power to tamper with the existence of its constituent units. The creation of new provinces without any constitutional authority would also violate Lahore Resolution of 1940 which was the basis of the federation, he added.
The petitioner, therefore, sought a declaration from the court that parliament and provincial assemblies were not vested with powers to create new provinces by invoking article 239. And the creation of new constituent units would amount to interfering in basic structure of the federation embedded in the Constitution.
He also requested the court to restrain the respondents from moving/passing any bill for creation of new provinces till the disposal of the petition.