–Legal experts say govt’s move ‘in violation of law’
–PM defends Miftah’s appointment, says ‘nothing unconstitutional about it’
ISLAMABAD: The appointment of Miftah Ismail as federal minister for finance, revenue and economic affairs has triggered a new battle as a majority of legal minds believe the appointment is in violation to the provisions enshrined under Article 91 of the Constitution.
Miftah was administered the oath by President Mamnoon Hussain on Friday, hours before the budget session commenced at the National Assembly.
As Ismail is not a member of parliament, his appointment has been undertaken as per Section nine of Article 91 of the Constitution, which pertains to making any non-elected person a member of the cabinet.
Under the law, if a person not a member of any of the two houses of the parliament is appointed as minister, he or she has to be elected to the National Assembly within a six months’ time. However, the National Assembly is going to be dissolved on May 31 after completing its five-year term.
Section 9 of Article 91 of the Constitution:
“(9) A Minister who for any period of six consecutive months is not a member of the National Assembly shall, at the expiration of that period, cease to be a minister and shall not, before the dissolution of that assembly, be appointed a Minister again unless he is elected a member of that assembly.”
Section 10 of Article 91 says, “Nothing contained in this article shall be construed as disqualifying the prime minister or any other minister or a minister of state for continuing in office during any period during which the National Assembly stands dissolved, or as preventing the appointment of any person as prime minister or other minister or a minister of state during any such period.”
Legal eagles say since the assembly is going to be dissolved on May 31, Miftah’s appointment, before a six months’ time, is in violation of the constitution.
Renowned lawyer, Advocate Hamid Khan told Pakistan Today that the ruling party had violated the constitution by appointing a person who is not a member of the National Assembly or the Senate as the National Assembly is to be dissolved by the end of next month.
“This appointment is in violation of the Article 91 in letter,” he said, adding that the appointment of the minister could be challenged in a court of law.
Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed said the appointment appears to be falling under the “mischief of law”.
“There are always such chinks in the armour. We call these the mischief of law. This appointment has been made taking advantage of such vulnerabilities in laws and the constitution covers such mischiefs by condoning them,” he said and added that the government had taken advantage of the technical lacunae in the law.
Former judge, Dr Khalid said the law was silent on such appointments, but the appointment had no ethical or moral grounds to support the government’s move.
Earlier, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi defended Miftah Ismail’s appointment as federal minister for finance in wake of scathing criticism by the opposition parties.
Responding to the opposition’s criticism, the premier said, “It was the cabinet’s decision that Miftah Ismail presents the budget and there is nothing unconstitutional about it.”
He added that he would like to see what changes the opposition would make to the budget when they got the chance. PM Abbasi said the person who made efforts had the right to present the budget, adding that Rana Afzal was a respected state minister, but the cabinet decided that Miftah should present the budget.