Law Ministry reluctant to present '73 NA record in SC -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Law Ministry reluctant to present ’73 NA record in SC

By Ahmad Noorani

ISLAMABAD: Senior advocate and one of the architects of the 1973 Constitution, Abdul Hafeez Pirzada’s demand of seeking the National Assembly record of discussion of the 1973 Constitution has jolted the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs.

The ministry’s bosses believe if the complete record is provided, it can open up many Pandora’s boxes and can directly harm the status of the constitutional immunity available for the office of the president.

According to the Law Ministry sources, if apex court passed orders for the provision of this record, the ministry would argue that the discussion record, being extraordinarily significant, could not be presented before the Supreme Court.

The ministry has decided to resist Pirzada’s demand and to convince the judges that there is no need to examine this record as it can create confusion.

Credible sources of the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry even fear that an accident, deliberate or not, could destroy this record before it is presented before the apex court.

Senior legal and constitutional experts believe that different clauses of the constitution are being misinterpreted, especially the immunity clause.

Top constitutional expert Khalid Anwar during an interview said that purpose of the sparing the president from the proceedings of any criminal case against him was to make sure that head of state should not appear before any court in a criminal case. “It was meant that president would himself quit or resign instead of appearing in the court so to honour the constitutional clause 248(3),” Anwar said.

Besides him other experts also believe that 248(3) was never meant to provide irreversible immunity to a person who was involved in corruption cases.

Top constitutional expert S M Zafar and member of the 18th Amendment Committee while talking to The News said that the discussion record of constitutional making or making of a constitutional amendment could have an impact on the final judgment of the court in any case and the judges could try to understand the exact motive or purpose of any specific article or clause of the constitution.

Zafar said that in UK this practice was adopted and the record of the constitutional debates was used in courts to understand the direction or real objectives of some articles of the constitution.

Zafar said that judges considered the record of the discussion more important than statements or speeches made by the movers of the amendments. Speeches of each and every member are not considered important or worthwhile.

He said that record of the discussion for the constitution or any of the constitutional amendment is called ‘external material’ for a case in the Supreme Court.

Though the record of discussion of 1973 constitution is a public document it has not been provided to the general public for research purposes easily. It was always available to the selected few working on assignments of those in power.
Source: The News