A day after controversy was stirred following the Balochistan Assembly speaker’s ‘refusal’ to summon a session of the assembly, a top law officer of the province has said that no such request had been sent by Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani.
Advocate-General Amanullah Kanrani said that the request actually was regarding initiating preparations for a session to be held in Gawadar – including things such as arranging for security and the accommodation of assembly members. The basis of the speaker’s ‘refusal’ was that a letter had to first be written to Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi, he maintained.
In any case, Kanrani said the ‘so-called’ refusal on the part of Muhammad Aslam Bhootani to summon a session had no legal or constitutional worth. The speaker, he said, cannot refuse a demand to assemble a session. Aside from the chief minister, 20% of the members of the house could also request a session – a request that cannot be refused.
Constitutionally, a provincial governor summons a session on the advice of a chief minister, on a date that is also fixed by the latter. 20 per cent of the members of a provincial legislature also have the same right, he said, adding that, if the demand is not met within 14 days, the assembly is automatically deemed to be in session.
He further said that if the speaker failed to fulfill his constitutional and legal obligation – that is, to chair the session, – the deputy speaker or, after him, any senior member of the assembly could preside over it.
The advocate-general also had a strong stance regarding the debate over whether or not the current Balochistan government had constitutional authority following the Supreme Court’s ruling that it had ‘failed.’
He said that a chief minister could only be removed under procedures prescribed in the Constitution. One, there has to be a resignation by the chief minister himself; two, a vote of no confidence by the assembly.
There is also the option of imposing emergency in the province, which would require a resolution by the provincial and/or national assembly. Under Article 232 of the Constitution, the president may issue a proclamation of emergency if satisfied that a grave emergency exists in which the security of Pakistan is threatened by war or external aggression or by internal disturbance beyond the power of a provincial government to control, he said.
He elaborated saying that any such move would have to be first passed by the provincial assembly, or, if the president acts on his own, would have to be later passed by both houses of Parliament within 10 days. Under emergency, the federal government assumes powers to run the affairs of the province.
Kanrani said that the Supreme Court was not empowered to decide the fate of a government under the Constitution.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 3rd, 2012.