Constitution is a basic document in the handling of domestic affairs. It sets out the framework for governance and exercise of power. It gives guiding lines of relationships among the federating units. Law making is always within its limits.
The modified Government of India Act (1935) became the Interim Constitution of Pakistan in 1947. The Constituent Assembly (CA) was given the task of framing the Constitution. The first meeting of the CA was held on August 11, 1947 at Karachi. In the lecture 17 we have discussed the constitutional issues that the CA had to deal with, mainly 6 major issues. Now we will discuss the stages of constitution making.
The process began with the passing of the Objectives Resolution (Lecture 16) in which the Islamic and democratic values were adopted as grounds for the future constitution. The Basic Principles Committee (BPC) consisting of 24 members was made to work for the constitutional powers. The various sub-committees on Federal and provincial powers, Franchise, Judiciary, and Fundamental Rights started working. Board of Talimat-i-Islamia was also set up to seek advice on the religious matters.
First BPC Report, 1950
1: The Objectives Resolution to be included in the Constitution as the directive principles.
2: Legislature: Two houses of the parliament.
Upper: (House of Units) Equal representation for the units
Lower: (House of People) On the basis of Population. Both the Houses would enjoy the equal powers.
3: The Head of State elected by joint session would be for five years (Two terms only). President had discretionary and emergency, appointment and other powers. President was not answerable to anyone, might be a Muslim or non-Muslim, would be assisted by the Prime Minister (PM) and Cabinet that would be answerable to the CA. Parliament may impeach him by 2/3 majority. He was given the power to abrogate the constitution.
4: Cabinet responsible to both the Houses.
5: No mention of national language
This report was severely criticized throughout the country. It could not satisfy both the wings, East and West. The religious group objected that the report contained nothing about Islamisation. On the question of representation, the East Pakistan (EP) protested that their majority had been denied by the Report. They remarked that they were thrown into a permanent minority. The population of EP was slightly larger than that of the West Pakistan (WP) but it was treated as the small provinces because both the Houses were given equal powers. So the domination of WP was intolerable for the East wing.
The language issue proved subversive to the national solidarity. The Eastern Pakistanis condemned the proposal that made Urdu as official language.
Second BPC Report, 1952
1. Head of State would be Muslim and no change in powers.
2. Equal representation to East and West wings: UH (Upper House) 60, 60 LH 200, 200
3. More powers were given to Lower House. Cabinet was made responsible to Lower House.
4. It was promised that law making would be in accordance with ISLAM. No law would be made in violation of Islamic principles.
5. Advisory Board of five Islamic scholars was founded.
6. Silent on national language.
The politicians particularly from the Punjab deplored the Report because formation of the UH on the basis of representation was not acceptable. It was declared against the principle of federation. The WP favoured equality only for Upper House. The political crisis removed Prime Minister Nazimuddin and attention diverted from the core issue.
Third Report: Muhammad Ali Formula October 1953
The proposals were revised in the light of the criticism and decided: Upper House: Equal representation to all five units
Lower House: More representation to Eastern part
While in joint session, both wings had equal representation:
East Pak __West Pak
Upper House 10 40
Lower House 165 135
Joint Session 175 175
Decision by majority but it must include 30 percent members from each zone.
It suggested some difficult process but mostly it was widely acceptable. Two languages, Urdu and Bengali, were approved as official languages that injured the national unity as Quaid-i-Azam had wished Urdu as national language.
This is important that after the Formula, the work began on constitution drafting because the deadlock was over.
In October 1954, GG (Governor General) dissolved the CA that was challenged in the Sindh court by Maulvi Tamizuddin. The court declared the dissolution illegal but the Federal Court upheld the GG action but asked for setting up an elected CA.
2nd Constituent Assembly, June-July 1955
Ghulam Muhammad called a Convention on May 10, 1955. All its members were to be elected indirectly (by the provincial assemblies). In this way, the 2nd CA came into existence.
One Unit Scheme, October 1955
The presence of different provinces in the WP had complicated the issue of the WP representation in the CA. It was handled by uniting all the WP units into ONE (One Unit, October 30, 1955). Now both the parts had become two units and could be addressed equally.
One Unit scheme helped the task of constitution making to accomplish successfully. The previous committees report helped the new Assembly that completed its work and presented in the 2nd CA on January 9, 1956. It, with certain amendments, was approved on January 29, 1956 and enforced on March 23. With this Pakistan had become an Islamic Republic.
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