Athar Osama July 9th, 2007
Having looked at the “Constitutional Coup” of 1954 and its repurcussions in the form of Justice Munir’s historic judgment, we now turn towards the Pakistan’s renewed quest for a Constitution.
An Era of Legal Challenges
With Justice Munir’s verdict in the Tamizuddin Khan case, not only did the Constituent Assembly stood dissolved but also seven long years of important legislation was eliminated by a stroke of a pen. Forty-six Acts on the statute books became invalid thus putting the country in a legal vacuum making it almost impossible to govern. Days after the judgment, the Governor-General promulgated Emergency Powers Ordinance IX of 1955 that give him the power to:
- Make provision for framing the Constitution of Pakistan
- Make provision to constitute the province of West Pakistan
- Validate laws which have been passed by the Constituent Assembly but had not received assent of the Governor-General
- Authenticate the Central Budget
- Name East Bengal as East Pakistan (Khan, 2001, p. 89)
Governor-General’s Emergency Powers Ordinance was immediately challenged in the court. In Usif Patel vs. The Crown, Chief Justice Munir sided with the petitioner and declared the Emergency Powers Ordinance IX of 1955 as ultra vires (without legal authority). In a major flip-flop of his earlier decision, Justice Munir’s judgment recognized the continuing authority of the Constituent Assembly, and nobody else, to make any provisions to the country’s Constitution. Ironically, this was the same Constituent Assembly that had stood dissolved through his decision in the Tamizuddin Khan case.