Salient Features of 1962 Constitution of Pakistan

Sun, 03/03/2013 - 20:54 -- Umar Farooq

Introduction to 1962 Constitution of Pakistan

After 9 years of hard labour Pakistan was able to frame its first constitution. But due to unparliamentary role of those who were at the helm of affairs, it lived shortly. Martial Law was imposed and the constitution was abrogated. Muhammad Ayub Khan appointed a commission which had to prepare a draft constitution. The commission submitted its report but behind the scene Gen. Azam Khan and Manzoor Quader prepared another report, which was accepted by the military regime as the new constitution, which was implemented on June 8, 1962 under which Pakistan was declared a republic with Presidential system and unicameralism. Also Read: Indian Constitution

Salient Features of 1962 Constitution

The Salient Features of 1962 Constitution of Pakistan are as follows:

Federal System

Under the constitution of 1962 federal system was adopted. The powers of the central government were enumerated in the Federal List while all the residuary powers were given to the provinces so as to meet the demand of provincial autonomy. However, with in this federal structure, the central government was made domineering even at the cost of provincial autonomy. Besides in the administrative matters, centralism was clearly reflected. The provincial governors were the appointees of President and accountable to him: Hence the provincial executive was under the control of the center. This centralism bore more disastrous results in respect of provincial autonomy. Consequently, the federal structure practically seemed unitary due to which the demand of provincial autonomy became more popular and widespread which threatened our solidarity in the later stage.

A Written and Detailed Document

The 1962 constitution was written in nature and character. It consisted of 250 Articles and 3 Schedules. Thus it was comparatively detailed document. Keeping in view the lack of democratic values and established norms it was thought expedient to give a detailed code of constitutional law as could regulate the conduct of different political institutions.

Islamic Provisions

Like previous constitution of 1956 the Objective Resolution was included in the Preamble of the constitution. The teachings of Quran and Islamiyat were to be made compulsory. The President was to be Muslim. Pakistan was declared an Islamic republic through first amendment. No un-Islamic law would be enacted and all the existing laws would be Islamized etc.

Position of the President

Under the Constitution of 1962 US-type presidential system was enforced to overcome political instability and establish a firm socio-economic and political order. All the executive authority was vested in the President who was unanimously responsible for the business of the central government. All the ministers were appointed by him and they were accountable to him alone. They could participate in the deliberations of the legislature but they were not responsible to it. Along with the provincial governors all the top ranking officials were appointed by him. The president also enjoyed certain legislative, military and judicial powers. The provincial set up also followed the central structure. In short, it was the President who was all in all.

Unicameral Legislature

The 1962 Constitution like the previous constitution provided for unicameral legislature called National Assembly. Its total strength was 156 (later 218 and then 313, who were elected by the electoral college of Basic Democrats. Besides, certain seats were also reserved for women. Its term was 5 years, which was fixed. The members were elected on the basis of parity of representation between East and West wing. The proceedings of the Assembly might not be challenged in any court of law. Unlike the previous practices the members of the cabinet were not the members of the legislature. The ministers could attend its meetings but like US system neither the president nor his cabinet colleagues were responsible to it.

Indirect Section

It was a new innovation in the 1962 Constitution. It was a general impression that one of the causes of the failure of the constitutional machinery was the direct and adult suffrage and without proper and necessary political education and training. Hence this constitution provided indirect method of election for President and for the legislative assemblies was envisaged. Accordingly, the primary voters would elect the Basic Democrats who had then to elect the representatives to higher positions.

Independence of Judiciary

Proper safeguards were introduced in the 1962 Constitution to ensure the independence of judiciary. Judges of the superior courts were appointed by the President and were appointed by the President and were ensured security of service. They could be removed on the inquiry report submitted by the Supreme Judicial Council on the ground of misbehavior or physical or mental inability to perform their duties. By induction of first amendment the judiciary had full, power to pass judgment over the views of the legislature. Moreover, the court also enjoyed the power of judicial review of executive actions.

Fundamental Rights add Principles of Policy

In the original constitution there was no list of fundamental rights. It was due to the first amendment in the constitution in 1963 that these were included and made its part, prior to that these were laid down in the directive principles of policy. The list of fundamental rights contained almost all the rights secured to its citizens by a modern state. The Principles of Policy were also incorporated in the constitution. Most of the Islamic provisions were made the part thereof. These principles of policy dealt with such matters as Islamic way of life, national integration and solidarity, social welfare, protection of the rights of minorities, development of backward areas etc.

Provincial Governments

Each province had a provincial assembly, which was organized on the lines of National Assembly. The relationship of the provincial governors with their assemblies was the same like that of President with National Assembly. The assemblies of the East and West Pakistan used to meet at Dacca and Lahore respectively. Each had 155 members, at least of who were women. The governors appointed by the President, had a Council of Ministers in the same manner, as the President, who belonged to their respective province.

Although the 1962 constitution of Pakistan had transferred several responsibilities to the provincial governments but in actual practice the central government or its representatives used to exercise these powers.