Hasba Bill contains many illegal clauses, AG tells SC -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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Hasba Bill contains many illegal clauses, AG tells SC

ISLAMABAD: Attorney-General (AG) Makhdoom Ali Khan on Monday concluded his arguments in the presidential reference, challenging the NWFP government’s Hasba Bill, in the Supreme Court.

The AG contended that the present bill, passed by the NWFP Assembly and pending for governor’s approval, contains many unconstitutional and illegal clauses, including judicial powers to the office of Mohtasib.

A nine-member larger bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry was hearing the arguments in a reference filed by the president under Article 186 of the Constitution.

The bench directed the AG to submit a comparative chart, showing difference between the previous and present bill passed by the NWFP Assembly. The AG said the bill in question was in violation of certain provisions of the Constitution and also ultra vires to the Local Government Ordinance. He maintained that when, in 2005, the Hasba Bill was first time challenged through a presidential reference, the Supreme Court had called for removal of sections relating to the office of Mohtasib and police force. But the NWFP Assembly again passed the bill with slight changes.

The chief justice asked the AG and the NWFP government’s counsel Khalid Anwer to assist the court on a point of law as to on which grounds the speaker of an assembly can determine that it is a money bill.

A member judge of the larger bench, Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, during the arguments of AG, questioned as to why the president was opposing the Hasba Bill when the NWFP government was going to introduce an Islamic system in the province. When legislation is the prerogative of parliament, why he (attorney-general) was opposing a good piece of legislation, which is meant for enforcement of Islamic injunctions, questioned Justice Ramday.

The AG replied that the bill is very vague. There are different sects and different schools of thought in Islam. It is not mentioned in the bill that the Mohtasib will follow which sect or school of thought for adjudication, and it will ultimately lead to chaos and confusion in the province, he said.

Justice Ramday said even in the Constitution there is mention of Islamic injunctions. Would you call it a vague constitution? If so, all our Islamic laws and provisions will be rendered ineffective, he said.

The AG said the office of Mohtasib already exists under the Local Government system. But a Mohtasib can only give recommendations and cannot prosecute anyone. The AG concluded his arguments and the court adjourned hearing of the case for Tuesday (today).
Source: The News