LAHORE: In a constitutional democracy, it is the Constitution which is supreme and not parliament, or the executive, nor armed forces and neither the judiciary. The 1973 Constitution is a written document, with a preamble laying down the principles on which the nation is to be governed. There is no provision in the Constitution for either martial law or rule by non-elected technocrats, nor assuming any powers by the executive beyond that defined in the Constitution.
It creates the offices of the president and prime minister and the Supreme Court/High Courts, National Assembly, Senate and federal/provincial cabinets, the executive branch, and vests powers in each to be used within defined corridors. Once the Constitution has been written and approved by the people, parliament is not above the Constitution, since it is a creation of this document.
A government that is formed and functions in accordance with the Constitution is legal, otherwise it becomes unconstitutional, hence illegal. This is what differentiates a constitutional rule from dictatorial rule. If any law is legislated, which is in conflict with the Constitution, it can be struck down by the Supreme Court.
Malik Tariq Ali
Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd, 2012.
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