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Punjab MPAs Challenge Governor’s Misuse Of Power to Promulgate Ordinances

Punjab MPAs belonging to opposition parties PML-N and PPP on Saturday moved the Lahore High Court (LHC) against the frequent misuse of Governor’s power of promulgation of ordinances. The Punjab governor has promulgated more than 16 ordinances since the start of 2019.

PML-N lawmakers Azma Bokhari and Sami Ullah Khan and PPP leader Syed Hassan Murtaza challenged these ordinances in the LHC through their counsel, Advocate Usama Khawar Ghumman.

Usama Khawar told Naya Daur that the Governor, under Article 128 of the Constitution, is empowered to promulgate ordinances, which are a form of temporary legislation subject to two expressly stipulated conditions: (a) when the Provincial Assembly is not in session; and (b) if circumstances exist which render it necessary to take immediate action. Article 128 represents a narrow exception to the general procedure for bringing about legislation. Article 128 is meant only for dealing with emergencies and not handling routine legislative matters.”

The petitioners are of the opinion that Pakistan is a representative and deliberative democracy, and the people of Punjab have elected them to represent them in the Punjab Assembly and legislate on their behalf. This requires that members of the assembly to legislate, not the executive.

Moreover, the cardinal democratic principle of separation of powers which ensures checks and balances, bedrock of our constitutional ethos, require that each organ of the government stays in its domain and legislature makes laws and executive implement them. The provincial government rushed with the Impugned Ordinances is that it did not want to meaningfully engage with the opposition in the assembly. This represents a completely unconstitutional and authoritarian approach to government.

The petition said that these ordinances did not represent a bona fide exercise of the power conferred by Article 128, adding that all the impugned ordinances were meant to bring about long-term governance reform, which, albeit important, fell squarely in the category of routine legislation.

The petitioner prayed to the court to declare 10 ordinances issued by the incumbent government as unconstitutional, mala fide, and ultra vires of Article 128 of the Constitution. Moreover, declare that the Governor’s power to promulgate ordinances can be used to bring about such legislation only when the government needs to respond to an emergency situation such as war, famine, epidemic or rebellion which has put the life, liberty or property of the people of Pakistan at stake so that this power is not misused again.

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