The Lahore High Court on Thursday adjourned till February 11 the hearing of a petition against the formation of a parliamentary commission that has recommended the creation of a Bahawalpur South Punjab province.
The judge asked the counsel for the petitioner to argue at the next hearing after going through the letter written by President Asif Ali Zardari to the National Assembly speaker for the formation of a parliamentary commission to form a new province. Earlier, Additional Advocate General Abdul Hayee Gilani produced a copy of the letter which was made part of the record.
As the court resumed hearing on Thursday, the AAG submitted that hearing the petition was tantamount to intervention in the proceedings of the parliament and this beyond the court’s jurisdiction.
Justice Khalid Mahmood Khan remarked that there was no interference in the parliamentary proceedings. He said the court was only looking into the legality of the president’s letter.
The AAG tried to persuade the court that proceedings could not go on.
Justice Khan referred to a case in Canada where the court had stopped the parliament from making new provinces and ruled that there needed to be a referendum. The judge also asked the AAG whether or not that the presidential message should have been addressed to the members of the parliament.
The AAG said the speaker had the members’ consent in this regard. However, he could not produce a record of any such consent.
The petitioner’s counsel Muhammad Azhar Siddique complained that Senior Minister Syed Khurshid Shah was criticising the court over the issue, the judge said in democracy, everyone had the right to criticise.
The petitioner had contended that neither the Constitution nor the Rules of Business allowed the speaker to form a commission on new provinces. He said that inclusion of the Mianwali district in the proposed Bahawalpur South Punjab province was against the aspirations of its citizens. He said the Punjab Assembly had passed two resolutions on the subject and demanded the restoration of the Bahawalpur province.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.