PESHAWAR, Aug 5: Terming the Supreme Court’s verdict on the Hasba bill in conflict with the constitution, NWFP Law Minister Malik Zafar Azam has asked the president to direct the provincial governor for signing the bill.

“The judgment is only an opinion which is neither binding on the provincial government nor on the president and the governor,” Mr Azam said in a press conference here.

He said that after going through the detailed judgment, they would consult their legal experts and file a constitutional petition in the Supreme Court for clarifying certain ambiguities in the judgment.

“We would decide after the detailed judgment whether to adopt the same bill or to make amendments in it, and if it is again passed by the assembly then the governor cannot withhold his assent,” the law minister said.

He said: “Although we respect the judgment of the court, but it has made recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology redundant as majority of the clauses of the Hasba Bill declared ultra vires of the constitution were in fact recommended in the report of the council.”

Mr Azam stated that in his opinion the Constitution had made it binding on the governor to sign a bill passed by an assembly and by observing that the governor might not sign the bill, the Supreme Court had violated that provision.

“How could the apex court place restriction on the powers of the provincial assembly as far as legislation is concerned?” he asked. The president, he said, was the symbol of the federation, and he should not try to undermine the powers of the federating units.

He stated that the NWFP government would continue the legal battle. “The political forces should support us in this fight for provincial autonomy,” he remarked.

He informed that they would launch a constitution awareness campaign countrywide for making the people aware about the power of the legislature, executive and judiciary.

Mr Azam cited various recommendations of the Council of Islamic Ideology, stating that the same had been incorporated in the Hasba bill, but declared ultra vires of the Constitution.

“The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body and under Article 2130(4) of the Constitution, parliament and provincial assemblies should enact laws in the light for its recommendations,” he said and added: “We have not committed any mistake in implementing the recommendations of the council.”

He pointed out that Section 25 of the Hasba bill had ousted the jurisdiction of courts in matters taken up by the mohtasib, and the same provision was also part of the laws through which offices of federal, Punjab and Sindh mohtasibs had been set up. What would be the status of those provisions in other laws, he questioned.

Mr Azam had to face a volley of questions regarding that ambiguous stand of the MMA on the judgment.

Answering a question about terming the verdict in the favour of MMA, he stated that out of the 31 sections of the bill, clauses of only five sections had been declared in conflict with the constitution.

He stated that Islamising the laws was the duty of the government and if restrictions were placed on the legislature in that regard, every individual would start their own interpretation of Islam, which would create chaos and anarchy.