Article 75 Controversy
At the heart of the controversy lie the Official Secrets Act and Pakistan Army Act Amendment Bills, which President Dr Arif Alvi declined to give assent to.
Pakistan, a nation born out of constitutional struggle, is no stranger to political and legal controversies. Recently, a new debate has emerged, centred on Article 75 of the Constitution, which outlines the procedure for the President’s assent to bills passed by the Parliament. At the heart of this controversy lie the Official Secrets Act and Pakistan Army Act Amendment Bills, which President Dr Arif Alvi declined to give assent to, thrusting the nation into uncharted territory and sparking a heated constitutional debate.
Article 75 of the Constitution of Pakistan delineates a fundamental aspect of the country’s democratic process. It outlines the mechanism through which bills passed by the Parliament become law. According to this article, once both houses of the Parliament have approved a bill, it is presented to the President for assent. The President is required to provide his assent within ten days, failing which, the bill automatically becomes law without his approval. The President also has the option to return the bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. However, if it is passed again by both houses, he is obligated to give his assent.
Article 75 of the Constitution of Pakistan plays a crucial role in the legislative process, particularly concerning the President’s authority to provide assent to bills passed by the Parliament. This article ensures that legislation is subject to scrutiny and due consideration before becoming law. However, a recent controversy has shed light on the interpretation of this article, leading to debates about the President’s role and the constitutionally mandated procedures. Article 75 grants the President the power to return a bill to the Parliament for reconsideration. While he may propose specific amendments, this is not a mandatory requirement.
It’s important to note that Article 75 does not stipulate an automatic assent if the President doesn’t act within ten days. Instead, the President’s decision is expected to be deliberate and well-considered. The crux of the controversy arises from the President’s assertion that he directed the return of the bills for reconsideration. In response, statements by the Law and Information Ministers clarified that the President did not sign either of the bills. This dichotomy raises questions about whether the bills should be deemed to have received the President’s assent, as the government seems to argue. However, this interpretation contradicts Article 75(1), which explicitly requires a positive assent from the President.
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