Law Ministry criticises Alvi’s ‘unconstitutional action.
▪︎ Constitution allows only two options to President when the bill is sent to him.
▪︎ Assent (approve) the bill within 10 days (he has done this so many times).
▪︎ Return the bill with observations within 10 days (he has done this so many times).
▪︎ If the President retains the bill beyond 10 days, it BECOMES THE LAW AUTOMATICALLY (and President knew this as he has been there for 5 years).
▪︎ If he had no control over his staff, he should have made the same tweet before completion of 10 days
Note: Army Act Bill was received in the Presidency on 2 August & Official Secret Act Bill was received on 8 August 2023.
ISLAMABAD - A constitutional crisis has triggered in Pakistan after President Arif Alvi made a shocking revelation yesterday that he didn't sign the Pakistan Army Act Amendment and Official Secret Act Amendment Bills, as reported in the media prompting Federal Law Ministry to make a statement and rejected the president’s claim and termed it against the Constitution.
"As God is my witness, I did not sign the Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws. I asked my staff to return the bills unsigned within the stipulated time to make them ineffective. I confirmed from them many times that whether they have been returned & was assured that they were. However, I have found out today that my staff undermined my will and command. As Allah knows all, He will forgive IA. But I ask forgiveness from those who will be effected," President Arif Alvi said on social media X (formerly known as Twitter yesterday.
However, this prompted the Federal Ministry of Law to issue immediate clarification which said, "The Ministry of Law & Justice has noted with grave concern the President's recent tweet.” It said, “As per Article 75 of the Constitution, when a bill is sent for assent, the President has two options: either give assent, or refer the matter to the parliament with specific observations. Article 75 does not provide for any third option".
It further said that in the instant matter, neither of the requirements was fulfilled. The statement said, instead, the President purposely delayed the assent. It further said that returning the bills without any observations or assent is not provided for in the Constitution.
The statement mentioned such a course of action is against the letter and spirit of the Constitution. “Had the President any observations, he could have returned the bills with his observations like he did in the recent and distant past,” the ministry said and asserted that he could have also issued a press release to that effect.
"It is a matter of concern that the President has chosen to discredit his own officials. The President should take responsibility for his own actions", the statement concluded.
Later in evening, Caretaker Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi and Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam at a joint news conference here said that a clarification issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice had removed the ambiguity created by the statement posted by President Dr. Arif Alvi on its personal account on X (formerly known Twitter) regarding signing of the two legislations.
“The President is a head of the state, and his position demands respect. No one should expect that we would speak against the respect of the President,” said the information minister.
He said there was no need to politicize the caretaker government’s efforts that were aimed at removing ambiguity on important matters.
He also said the President had posted a statement on the X about the two bills, sent by the Parliament, from his personal account on the platform, which might have created some sort of confusion, but did not cause any upheaval.
However, it was imperative to remove confusion on the matter and the Law Ministry had issued a statement in this regard, he added.
To a query, Solangi said he did not have any knowledge about the President’s intentions and desires, particularly concerning his continuation in office.
Institutions existed in the country for enforcement of laws, and a complete system was in place to ensure provision of rights to citizens and uphold the supremacy of the Constitution and laws, the minister said in response to another question.
He stressed that the caretaker government was fully committed to upholding the Constitution and would not engage in any actions that violated the laws.
With a clear understanding that their mandate is not political in nature, Murtaza said that the caretaker government would refrain from engaging in any political discussions. He said there were no loopholes in the government system, and the present caretaker setup has been functioning within the framework of the Constitution.
In case any attempt was made to create confusion on national issues, he said that the response would be given which would strictly be adhered to the boundaries defined by the Constitution and the law.
The caretaker law minister said that it has never happened before that President of Pakistan returned any bill without his signature.
He said there is nothing available in the Constitution to return the bills without signature or without recommendation or amendments.
Caretaker Minister for Law and Justice Ahmed Irfan Aslam said that under Article 75 of the Constitution, a bill automatically becomes law if the President didn’t approves or reject it within stipulated time period of ten days.
He said that ‘The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2023 was received by the presidency on August 2, while Official Secrets (Amendment) Bill reached there on August 8, after being passed by the two houses of the Parliament.
The law minister said that these two bills have not been received back from the President Office despite Article 75 of the Constitution clearly provides a period of ten days in order to avoid any political ambiguity. If the President does not exercise the authority within this time period, the bill is considered to be approved and automatically becomes law as per the constitution, he said.