Limits of discretionary power  

There seems to be a lot of confusion and misunderstanding among powerful constitutional public officeholders regarding the limits of discretionary powers. Unfortunately, in countries like Pakistan, both paid and elected public office holders, who pledge to uphold the constitution, choose to favor individuals while exercising their discretionary powers, thereby compromising the constitutional rights of other law-abiding citizens.

What is troubling is that the legal system selectively regularizes such irregularities in a few cases, using pretexts like third-party interest, while denying the same to others. Even individuals with similar qualifications, years of service, and a clean record, who are on the national payroll, are being denied their rights under the guise of discretion. There exists a constitution, which is the supreme law, guaranteeing equal rights and opportunities to all citizens. However, those wielding discretionary powers believe that they cannot be questioned or held accountable for their actions. We witness abuses of discretionary powers that regularize gross irregularities and illegalities, such as the forceful occupation of state and forest land, including the private farmland of individuals, by powerful individuals and groups associated with real estate cartels.

Infinite and unaccountable discretionary powers are not a divine right. Former CJ Coke states that “Discretion is a science or understanding to discern between falsity and truth, between right and wrong, between shadows and substance, between equity and colorful glosses and pretenses, and not to act according to one’s own wills, private affections, and opinions.



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