CRC members sign the draft of 18th Constitutional Amendment

Chairman CRC Senator Mian Raza Rabbani signs the draft of 18th Amendment at the committee room in Parliament

The Committee for Constitutional Reforms CCR has finally approved its recommendations; the hard work and endeavors of Chairman Parliamentary Constitutional on Committee Reforms (PCCR) and Advisor to the Prime Minister Senator Mian Raza Rabbani have finally been realized into reality and, the draft of 18th amendment will be tabled before the National Assembly on Friday, while and the same evening President Asif Ali Zardari would address the Joint Sitting of the Parliament.
The President has also accepted all the recommendations of PCCR and would make announcement with regard to slashing of his additional Powers, bestowed by Former President Gen. (Retd) Pervez Musharraf in the constitution, during his address to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament.

The committee that spent about nine months to evolve a consensus has suggested more than 100 amendments to over 70 articles of the Constitution. According to documents obtained Online reveals that the committee has also suggested some crucial changes in the articles dealing with Provincial Autonomy. Besides abolishing concurrent list from the constitution, the committee also recommended to delete name of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq as President from the constitution.

The constitutional Package prepared by the Raza Rabbani-led PCCR also recommended Parliament to remove the third time restriction on becoming the Prime Minister. For the first time since the Constitution was framed in 1973, the office of the Prime Minister is being given unprecedented powers in the new constitutional package, which will make him the chief executive of the Federation, though he will use these powers in the name of the President. CCR also reached consensus on name of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa for NWFP while PML-N’s demand for inclusion of 7th member in the judicial commission for judge’s appointment has also been approved.

The Prime Minister and the Chief Minister will be elected by the assemblies through show of hands against the current Provision of secret balloting. According to the proposed amendments, a caretaker chief minister will also be selected by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Minister and the leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Provincial Assembly.

Under the proposed law, members of the caretaker cabinet, including the caretaker Prime Minister and caretaker chief ministers and their immediate family members (spouse and children) shall not be eligible to contest the election.

To give full Powers to the Chief Ministers, Article 139 has been changed to allow the Provincial Government to make rules for the allocation and transaction of its business, stripping the Governor of this Power.

The committee has given complete powers of installing hydropower projects to provinces, while the Center would consult the concerned Province before installing Project in the Province. In accordance with amendment made in section-1 of article 157 of the Constitution, Provinces would be completely free in installing hydropower projects in their respective areas but the Center would consult the concerned Province before installing project in that province.

Under the amendment made in the constitution, the President cannot dissolve assemblies in future. The President would dissolve assemblies only on advice of Prime Minister. Although the PPP and the PML-N in the past used to call for complete repeal of the 17th Amendment, the committee has proposed to retain some clauses of the 17th Amendment and the LFO issued by Former President Gen (Retd) Pervez Musharraf.

According to the constitutional Reforms Package, 25 Federal Ministries will be assigned to the Provinces to ensure Provincial autonomy while concrete list will be fully abolished.

Council for Common Interest will be restructured and more powers will be delegated to it. Parliament will monitor whatever loans will be obtained by the Government from donor’ agencies. Monitoring and management of loans will be made part of the constitution. Provinces will not be authorized to hold direct talks with the international donor agencies to secure loans.

NA session will be summoned within 21 days after general elections. This has also been suggested in the proposed 18th amendment that whosoever will revoke the constitution will be liable to be tried under article 6 of the constitution. Speaker of provincial assembly will act as governor in the absence of governor.

Federal Shariah court will remain intact. It has been proposed to set up federal court in federal capital. Federation and provinces will jointly share the natural and mineral resources and provinces will get equal share.

Judges in superior judiciary would be appointed by a judicial commission to be called Pakistan Judicial Commission and headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP). In future senior most judge of the apex court would be appointed as Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Judicial Commission of Pakistan chaired by the Chief Justice of Pakistan would comprise two senior-most judges of the Supreme Court, a retired superior court justice, Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Attorney General of Pakistan and a senior advocate to be nominated by the Pakistan Bar Council.

For appointments of judges in high courts, the Commission would be expanded to include Chief Justice of the High Court to which the appointments are being made; senior-most judge of that High Court, Provincial Minister for Law and a senior advocate to be nominated by the Provincial Bar Council.

For appointments in Islamabad High Court, the Committee Chairman said that the Commission would comprise in addition to the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, the senior most judge of that court, for the initial appointments to Islamabad High Court the Chief Justices of the four High Courts shall also be members.

For appointments in Federal Shariat Court, the Commission would comprise in addition to the Judicial Commission of Pakistan, Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court and the a senior most judge of that Court.

The Judicial Commission with majority of the members shall recommend one name for each vacancy in the Supreme Court or the High Courts, to the Parliamentary Commission. The Parliamentary Committee shall consist of eight members, four members from the Senate of Pakistan; four members from the National Assembly of Pakistan to be equally divided between the Treasury and the Opposition.

The Parliamentary Committee may not disapprove a recommendation made by the Judicial Commission except by a 3/4th majority of the committee and in such a case, the Judicial Commission shall send a new name for its consideration.

The members of CRC pray after signing the draft of 18th Amendment at the committee room in Parliament

The Committee shall decide the matter within fourteen days of the receipt of the recommendations, failing which the recommendations made by the Judicial Commission shall be deemed to have been confirmed/

The committee saw many ups and downs during its more than nine months working and at one stage even PPP leaders criticized the rigid attitude of smaller parties for making the task difficult for the committee. According to Political experts, the constitutional reforms Package would be landmark in Parliamentary’ history of Pakistan.

Omitting the name of Gen (retd) Zia-ul-Haq from Constitution, appointment of all three Army chiefs and COAS empowered to PM ‘s advice, sharing of natural resources and minerals by Provinces alongwith Federation, complete abolishment of concurrent list, ending the ban on holding the offices of PM and CM for the third time also features prominently.

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