Unjustified Governor Rule in Punjab (Pakistan)

On soon after the decision to disqualify Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sarif of Muslim League (Nawaz), president Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan imposed governor rule in Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan having little more than half the population of Pakistan. Article 234 of the constitution has been cited in the order. (Article 234 is reproduced below)

Article 234 can only be relied on in case of emergency when the provincial government becomes non-functional while, after court having disqualified Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sarif, the assembly is there and new leader of the house could be elected under the constitution within one week.

Further, in violation of the this very Article of the constitution, provincial assembly of Punjab is not being allowed to conduct it’s normal business without having issued any such order in writing because issuing such an order will bring on record violation of the constitution (Article 234 (1) (a).

SOME FACTS

Punjab Assembly has a total of 370 seats out of which 171 seats are occupied by Muslim League (Nawaz), 107 by Asif Zardari’s Peoples Party, 85 by Muslim League (Q), 3 by Muslim League (F), 3 by MMA and 5 are independent members. To be leader of the house a member need 186 votes. Thus, Muslim League (Nawaz) needs another 15 votes. During the Presidential election candidate of Muslim League (Nawaz) got 201 vote against People Party’s Asif Zardari and Muslim League (Q)’s Mushahid Hussain. That clearly proves that Muslim League (Nawaz) still command sound majority in the provincial assembly of Punjab.

For making government in Punjab, Peoples Party needed another 79 votes which was impossible. This made President Asif Zardari to impose governor rule in Punjab. The assembly of Punjab is not being allowed to function because if they are allowed they will elect leader of the house (Chief Minister) who will definitely be from Muslim League (Nawaz). Thus Asif Zardari’s effort of getting Shahbaz Sharif disqualified will go waste.

Constitution Article 234. Power to issue Proclamation in case of failure of constitutional machinery in a Province.

(1) If the President, on receipt of a report from the Governor of a Province or otherwise, is satisfied that a situation has arisen in which the Government of the Province cannot be carried on in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, the President may, or if a resolution in this behalf is passed at a joint sitting shall, by Proclamation,
(a) assume to himself, or direct the Governor of the Province to assume on behalf of the President, all or any of the functions of the Government of the Province, and all or any of the powers vested in, or exercisable by, any body or authority in the Province, other than the Provincial Assembly;
(b) declare that the powers of the Provincial Assembly shall be exercisable by, or under the authority of, Parliament; and
(c) make such incidental and consequential provisions as appear to the President to be necessary or desirable for giving effect to the objects of the Proclamation, including provisions for suspending in whole or in part the operation of any provisions of the Constitution relating to any body or authority in the Province:
Provided that nothing in this Article shall authorize the President to assume to himself, or direct the Governor of the Province to assume on his behalf, any of the powers vested in, or exercisable by, a High Court, or to suspend either in whole or in part the operation of any provisions of the Constitution relating to High Courts.

(2) The Provisions of Article 105 shall not apply to the discharge by the Governor of his functions under clause (1).

(3) A Proclamation issued under this Article shall be laid before a joint sitting and shall cease to be in force at the expiration of two months, unless before the expiration of that period it has been approved by resolution of the joint sitting and may by like resolution be extended for a further period not exceeding two months at a time; but no such Proclamation shall in any case remain in force for more than six months.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in clause (3), if the National Assembly stands dissolved at the time when a Proclamation is issued under this Article, the Proclamation shall continue in force for a period of three months but, if a general election to the Assembly is not held before the expiration or that period, it shall cease to be in force at the expiration of that period unless it has earlier been approved by a resolution of the Senate.

(5) Where by a Proclamation issued under this Article it has been declared that the powers of the Provincial Assembly shall be exercisable by or under the authority of Parliament, it shall be competent-
(a) to Parliament in joint sitting to confer on the President the power to make laws with respect to any matter within the legislative competence of the Provincial Assembly;
(b) to Parliament in joint sitting, or the President, when he is empowered under paragraph (a), to make laws conferring powers and imposing duties, or authorizing the conferring of powers and the imposition of duties, upon the Federation, or officers and authorities thereof;
(c) to the President, when Parliament is not in session, to authorize expenditure from the Provincial Consolidated Fund, whether the expenditure is charged by the Constitution upon that fund or not, pending the sanction of such expenditure by Parliament in joint sitting; and
(d) to Parliament in joint sitting by resolution to sanction expenditure authorized by the President under paragraph (c).

(6) Any law made by Parliament or the President which Parliament or the President would not, but for the issue of a Proclamation under this Article, have been competent to make, shall, to the extent of the incompetency, cease to have affect on the expiration of a period of six months after the Proclamation under this Article has ceased to be in force, except as to things done or omitted to be done before the expiration of the said period.

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