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CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY FIRST

CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY, FIRST The First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan was created by the Indian Independence Act of 1947 It started with 69 members, but after the accession of the states of Bahawalpur, Khairpur, and Balochistan to Pakistan, the membership was increased to 74 Of the 61 Muslim members in the assembly, the Muslim League, with 59 members, had a clear majority The two members who did not belong to the League were Abdul Ghaffar Khan of the Northwest Frontier Province and A K Fazlul Haq of East Bengal The assembly met for the first time on 10August 1947 in Karachi On 11 August, three days before Pakistan gained independence, the assembly elected Muhammad Ali Jinnah as its presidentJinnah became too ill in early 1948 to be able to guide the process of writing the constitution He died on 11 September 1948, prompting a series of changes that brought Maulvi Tamizuddin of East Bengal to the presidency of the Constituent Assembly and Ghulam Muhammad as governor-general



Liaqat Ali Khan stayed on as prime minister None of these individuals had Jinnah’s charisma or his moral authority; consequently, the process of constitution making bogged down in endless political disputes Agreement could not be reached on two issues: the powers to be assigned to the provinces within the Pakistani federation, and the role of religion in the state of Pakistan Eventually, the assembly was able to pass a bill labeled the “Basic Principles,” which was adopted to guide the process of creating the constitution Under the Indian Independence Act, the Constituent Assembly had two separate functions: to prepare a constitution and to act as a legislative assembly The assembly’s legislative powers were to be exercised under the Government of India Act of 1935 Although the assembly failed in carrying out its first mandate, it functioned effectively as a legislative assembly until it was dissolved in 1954 On 21 September 1954, the assembly sought to limit the power of the governor-general, by moving a bill to amend the Government of India Act of 1935 Sections 9, 10, 10A, and 10B of the Act were amended, taking away from the governor-general powers to act independently, except on the advice of his ministers, and requiring the choice of new ministers to be made only from among members of the assembly But Governor-General Ghulam Muhammad moved before the assembly was able to adopt the bill: On 24 October 1954, he precipitated a constitutional crisis by dissolving the Constituent Assembly Maulvi Tamizuddin took the case to the federal court and challenged the governor-general’s dissolution as unconstitutional

In a decision that was to have profound implications for Pakistan’s political development, the Court refused to overturn the governor-general’s action It took cover under the “doctrine of necessity,” arguing that by not endorsing the dissolution of the assembly, the Court could create a serious constitutional crisis The Court, however, ordered the governor-general to reconstitute the Constituent Assembly

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