THERE is no cavil with this legal proposition that Parliament is supreme, mandated to pass laws and has the constitutional right to do so under Constitution. It has the exclusive power outlined in Article 70 of the Constitution.
Whereas Article 75(1) (A) of the Constitution explicitly stipulates that every Bill passed by Parliament under Article 70 of the Constitution needs to be transmitted as a second step to the President for his assent, which means in writing, and the President will either grant his assent to such approved Bill of Parliament within ten days of such receipt or he has the authority and may send a Bill back to Parliament asking that the Bill or a specific aspect of it be examined and that any amendments mentioned in the written message be taken into consideration by Article 75(1)(B) of the Constitution.
According to Article 75(1)(B) of the Constitution, the President is required to return a Bill to Parliament with his assent as the first choice or to exercise his second option by providing written justifications on a bill for reconsideration for Parliament within 10 days as a constitutional limit. The Constitution also states that when a bill is returned by the President under Article 75 of the Constitution with his written proposals or points, it must be reconsidered by Parliament in a special joint session by Article 75(2) of the Constitution.
And, if the same bill is again passed with or without amendment by the votes of the majority members of both Houses present and voting, the bill will be deemed to have been considered and approved by both Houses for purposes of the Constitution, the same bill would be re-submitted for the President’s assent, and upon such receipt, the President shall give his assent within ten days, failing which such assent shall be deemed to have been given by the President as per Constitution.
Furthermore, according to Article 75(4) of the Constitution, no Act of Parliament and no provision thereof shall be unlawful only because some recommendation, previous sanction or consent required by the Constitution was not given if that Act was assented to by the Constitution.
By looking at the language and scheme of Article 75 of the Constitution, this is explicitly clear that the President is legally required with no third unbridled discretion or option but under the Constitution either to give his assent to a bill as the first option or to exercise his second option by providing a written justifications or proposals or written messaging for Parliament’s reconsideration within 10 days constitutional limit.
The President does not have at all the legal space necessary to keep the bill enacted by Parliament for an endless period with him on any excuse under Article 75 of the Constitution but he has to perform his constitutional functions within 10 days from the date of submission of a bill to his office in both situations as prescribed under Article 75(1)(A) & (B) of the Constitution, otherwise, the bill presented to the President, will be deemed to have received the President’s deemed assent after expiry of 10 days of constitutional limit, and the same bill will become an Act of Parliament following publication in the official Gazette.
Therefore, given the above clear provisions of the Constitution, it is the highest responsibility of every constitutional office in Pakistan to uphold the bounds of the Constitution along with maintaining the honour and dignity of the office and to follow the provisions and scheme of the Constitution in letter and spirit which is very crucial and important from every angle for the nation and country.
—The writer is practicing Advocate of Supreme Court.
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