Faced with legal opposition to the Bahawalpur South Punjab province proposal, the federal government launched an offensive on Monday by challenging the jurisdiction of the Lahore High Court (LHC) to hear petitions against the parliamentary commission.
Additional Attorney General Abdul Hayee Gillani intervened during the hearing by Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan by arguing that the LHC must first decide if it was constitutionally empowered to interfere in the internal mechanisms of parliament.
The court adjourned the hearing till February 6, pending new arguments on the matter of the court’s jurisdiction.
Meanwhile, Gillani was also asked to produce relevant record pertaining to the formation of the parliamentary commission, including notification of the National Assembly speaker and the final recommendations of the parliamentary commission.
Several petitioners had earlier challenged the validity of the parliamentary commission to propose a new province by stating that rules of business did not allow the speaker to notify a committee to look into the formation of new provinces. The petition argued that Article 239 of the Constitution empowered parliament to change geographical limits of provinces, but not create new ones.
Similarly, the petitions argued that Mianwali district had been added to Bahawalpur South Punjab against the wishes of its residents and that the demonstrations against the new plan could escalate if the government went ahead with the proposed province.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2013.