Move to clip president’s power to promulgate ordinances

Updated February 22, 2020

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“Parliament has consciously been placing fetters on such power of the president, but unsuccessfully," says Raza Rabbani. — APP/File
“Parliament has consciously been placing fetters on such power of the president, but unsuccessfully," says Raza Rabbani. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: As controversy over what the opposition calls attempt by the PTI government to ‘rule through ordinances’ continues, former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani sought an amendment to the law dealing with power of the president to promulgate ordinances.

Through a private member’s bill submitted to the Senate Secretariat, Mr Rabbani has sought to add two provisos to Article 89 of the Constitution, which allows the president to promulgate ordinances when parliament is not in session and such extreme circumstances exist where legislation becomes imperative.

The bill proposes to add a proviso to sub-paragraph (i) of paragraph (a) of clause (2) before the first proviso which reads “provided that the ordinance shall be laid in the first sitting of the National Assembly after its promulgation and shall stand repealed if not laid in that session”.

It also seeks to add a new proviso to sub-paragraph (ii) of paragraph (a) of clause (2) before the first proviso which reads “provided that the ordinance shall be laid in the first sitting of either House of Parliament after its promulgation and shall stand repealed if not laid in that session”.

The statement of objects and reasons says there is a long history of the misuse of the power of the president to promulgate an ordinance.

“The parliament has consciously been placing fetters on such power of the president, but unsuccessfully. In the recent past, there has been inordinate delay in laying the ordinances promulgated when parliament was not in session in contravention of Article 89, Constitution, 1973. This process has denied lawmakers of both houses from exercising their constitutional right of moving a resolution of disapproval under Article 89 of the Constitution, 1973….”.

Mr Rabbani said that attempts were being made under a preconceived plan to make parliament redundant.

During the last session of the Senate, the issue of misuse of the law on promulgation of ordinances had forcefully been raised by the opposition. The opposition members had accused the government of deliberately avoiding laying ordinances before the Senate, fearing a resolution of disapproval in the opposition-dominated house.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020