THIS is with reference to the report ‘President signs NAB, election ordinances’ (May 28). Signed by Senate Chairman Yousuf Raza Gilani, who at the time was the acting president, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) ordinance, among other things, increased the time duration of remanding an accused in NAB cases from 14 to 40 days. The other ordinance allowed the retired judges to be members of election tribunals.

In this context, I recall a Supreme Court ruling in 2022 which stated that the president may only promulgate an ordinance in respect of “any matter in the federal legislative list, when neither the Senate nor the National Assembly is in session”, and “can only do so when circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action. In the absence of even one of the stated preconditions, neither the president nor the governors can promulgate ordinances”.

Nobody seems to have questioned the emergency that necessitated the promulgation of the recent ordinances. In fact, the proposed legislation could have been tabled in parliament that was in session till May 24. But it was not done, and nobody has asked why.

The amendments have been often used by governments in Pakistan to browbeat their opponents. Relevant stakeholders, judiciary, opposition, media and all segments of the citizenry must oppose this culture of unconstitutional ordinances.

Minahil Saleem
Hyderabad

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2024

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