Legislation in a democracy | By Attiya Munawer


Legislation in a democracy

IT is Parliament to formulate a constitution for the country and to enact legislation as per the requirements.

However, in case of emergency, when it is not possible to convene a session of Parliament, the government may legislate through a presidential decree for a period specified in the Constitution.

But the Presidential Ordinance has to be introduced in Parliament and then it is the prerogative of the people’s representatives that the presidential decree can be approved or rejected.

However, the large-scale use of unwarranted presidential decrees for legislation is by no means satisfactory in terms of democratic principles.

Since the PTI came to power, despite bringing in more than 70 presidential ordinances in a row, the process has not stopped but continues.

The federal cabinet has approved two more important ordinances, the first ordinance to criminalize hate campaign on social media and the second to allow MPs to participate in the election campaign.

According to Federal Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry, insulting people on social media has been made a punishable offence.

The law requires courts to make a decision within six months, while another cabinet-approved proposal would now allow ministers and MPs to campaign.

Social media has become a powerful medium, any news or content that runs on it reaches every home in the blink of an eye, electronic and print media outlets are bound by certain rules while on social media, everybody acts as an institution and spreads misinformation without pondering.

There is also negative propaganda about the military and the judiciary, but there is a need to ensure transparency with legislation, so as not to create the impression that a particular class is being targeted.

MPs should not be excluded from the election campaign as well as to prevent false news, but the legislative process is not right for this.

Parliament is the centre of public representation in the country and the government’s own existence is the religion of the same parliament and public representation, if the government to amend the law or enact new laws by deducting the role of parliament and if such a series of laws takes the form of a tradition, then the government will also lose the right to represent the people.

It is a fact that the issuance of the Presidential Ordinance has generally been a manifestation of the dictatorial regime, however the present government has broken all the records of the dictatorial regime by flooding the ordinances for its own benefit while the opposition seems to be playing such a double role for the last four years that with the cooperation of the opposition, every law is being passed under one pretext or another.

This is a collusion between the government and the opposition that every law is being made by the government in a double manner, if one law looks good then the other has to be accepted.

On the one hand, the opposition leadership says that by issuing the ordinance, the President is not fulfilling the requirements of the ordinance under Article 89 nor is he deciding for himself.

Parliament will think about how to take action against the President, on the other hand the government is taking all kinds of steps, while Parliament is limited to thinking only, why is that?

If the opposition wants to restore its credibility, it should not just think against the government, but take practical steps, otherwise the issue will continue as to who will blow first?

The government must legislate, but democracy should not have dictatorial legislation.

—The writer is a regular columnist, based in Lahore.


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