ISLAMABAD: Former Senate chairman and PPP’s stalwart Senator Raza Rabbani on Wednesday withdrew five bills he introduced as a private member to mark his protest against the prevailing political polarisation and consistent violations of constitutional provisions related to governance.
In a letter, Mr Rabbani informed the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice that he was withdrawing the five bills that sought constitutional amendments to increase the powers of the upper house, and rationalise the president’s powers to promulgate ordinances and the provincial quota system.
The bills “pertain to amendments in the Constitution, 1973, which is a sacred document and is the fibre that holds the federation together”, Mr Rabbani wrote.
“Such amendments pertain to and deal with enhancing the powers of the Senate, which in a federal structure is the linchpin, structuring discretion of the federal government of promulgating ordinances, enhancing the share of the provinces if the NFC award is not issued within the timeframe prescribed under the Constitution, 1973,” he said.
Law committee chairman says criticism of judges over unfavourable judgements must be stopped
“Constitutional amendments need to be passed with the broadest political consensus in which all stakeholders have been consulted and their point of view accommodated. As the Constitution is not the property of a political party but belongs to the people, who must rise to defend and protect it from adventures.
“In the given circumstances when offices functioning under the Constitution are wilfully violating the Constitution, 1973, moving amendments in the said document, when it itself is struggling to survive, seems inappropriate. When misinterpreting and or violating the Constitution, 1973, or bringing into disrepute institutions working under the Constitution, seems to have a premium, I do not wish to burden the record of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice and the Senate with the aforesaid bills,” he said.
These were times when the Constitution must be preserved and protected if the federation was to survive, rather than bringing amendments, Mr Rabbani said, adding that this was a battle for the survival of the Constitution.
Against this backdrop, he withdrew the bills under Rule 115 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012.
“In this sea of unconstitutionality and lack of the rule of law, this withdrawal is a mark of protest on behalf of the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis against the game of power politics, which is tearing and polarising our society, bringing severe strains on national security and indeed the federation itself,” he said.
‘Criticise judgements, not judges’
In view of Mr Rabbani’s letter, members of the Senate law committee pointed out and requested its chairman to conduct a debate on various constitutional crises facing the country.
The committee’s chairman, Senator Syed Ali Zafar, said such a debate was necessary but must be meaningful and result-oriented so that a future course of action could be laid out.
He said that all sides were blaming each other for alleged constitutional violations, and therefore the agenda for the debate must be drawn up in a systematic, logical and considered manner so that the purpose of the debate could be achieved. He said he would draft the agenda of the meeting accordingly.
Senator Zafar said that since law and justice were intricately linked with the judiciary, it was the committee’s duty to ensure its interests were fully protected.
Whenever a court passed a judgement, some parties agreed with it while others disagreed, he said.
The chairman added that while everyone had a right to give a fair comment and criticise courts’ decisions, the practice of criticising judges must be stopped. The committee might even come up with laws and suggestions to curb such a growing practice, he added.
Senator Zafar said judges could not come out of their chambers to defend themselves and therefore this obligation fell upon the committee.
Published in Dawn, May 12th, 2022