The Lahore High Court on Tuesday issued notices to the federal and four provincial governments (Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan) on a writ petition challenging Parliament’s power to create more provinces.
The federation through the law secretary, the Senate chairman, the National Assembly speaker and the provinces through their chief secretaries have been made party to the petition.
Justice Sheikh Ahmad Farooq directed the respondents to file their written replies by the second week of September.
Malik Naeem Iqbal of Okara filed the petition saying an impression had been created that new provinces could be created by invoking Parliament’s powers through Article 239 of the Constitution.
Iqbal said prima facie Article 239 does not envisage creation of new provinces rather it vests power in the Parliament to alter the boundaries of the provinces. He said a federation comprised autonomous units which could not be destroyed through an amendment.
He said that Parliament had the power to add more territories on the terms and conditions decided by it but no new province could be created out of the existing ones.
The present Parliament, he said, was not a constituent assembly and though it could amend the Constitution it had no power to tamper with the existence of the constituent units. The creation of new provinces without any constitutional authority would also be against the Lahore Resolution of 1940, which was the basis of the federation, he added. The petitioner sought a declaration from the court that the Parliament and the provincial assemblies were not vested with the power to create new provinces by invoking Article 239 of the Constitution and the creation of new constituent units will amount to interfering with the basic structure of the Federation as embedded in the Constitution.
(Read: New provinces will break Pakistan)
He also requested the court to restrain the respondents from moving or passing any bill for the creation of new provinces till the disposal of the petition.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.