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January 4, 2015
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Two bills tabled in NA for changes to Constitution, Army Act

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January 4, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: The government Saturday introduced two separate bills in the National Assembly envisaging 21st amendment to the Constitution and an amendment to the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 for speedy trial of terrorists particularly in the wake of a terrorist attack on the Army Public School, Peshawar.
Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Pervaiz Rashid introduced ‘The Constitution (21st Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 (Amendment) Bill, 2015 in the presence of Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and lawmakers from treasury and opposition benches.
The Saturday’s proceeding lasted for only 10 minutes and was adjourned till Monday soon after the introduction of two highly important bills.
The House passed two separate motions to dispense with Rule 122 of Rules and Procedure and Conduct of Business of the House to exempt the passage of draft by the standing committees concerned.
The consensus on drafts of the two bills was reached at the All Parties Conference (APC) chaired by the prime minister and attended by top political leaders and the military leadership Friday night.
The lower house of Parliament would take up reading and passage of two bills Monday evening.
The 21st amendment to the Constitution would provide constitutional cover to trial of offences relating to terrorism by military courts while amendment to the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 would extend the jurisdiction of military courts to try terrorists.
The Constitution (21st Amendment) Act, 2015 shall remain in force for two years from the date of its commencement and shall cease to be part of the Constitution and shall stand repealed on the expiration of the period.
The 21st amendment to the Constitution would provide that the provisions of Article 175 shall have no application to the trial of persons under any of the Pakistan Army Act 1952, the Pakistan Army Act 1953, the Pakistan Navy Act 1961 and the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014.
The

Article 175 of the Constitution provides for establishment of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and high courts in the provinces.
The 21st amendment to the Constitution also provides for entering the Pakistan Army Act 1952, the Pakistan Army Act 1953, the Pakistan Navy Act 1961 and the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014 in the first schedule of the Constitution.
The first schedule of the Constitution contains laws which are exempted from operation of Article 8 (1) and (2) of the Constitution. These articles are part of Chapter 1 of the Constitution relating to the fundamental rights.
Article 8 (1) of the Constitution says any law, or any custom or usage having the force of law, in so far as it is inconsistent with the rights conferred by this Chapter, shall, to the extent of such inconsistency, be void.
Article 8 (2) says the state shall not make any law which takes away or abridges the rights so conferred and any law made in contravention of this clause shall, to the extent of such contravention, be void.
The statement of the objects and reasons says an extraordinary situation and circumstances exist which demand special measures for speedy trial of offences relating to terrorism, waging war or insurrection against Pakistan and prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan.
As per amendment to the Pakistan Army Act 1952, a new sub-section (4) has been added according to which the federal government shall have the power to transfer any proceedings in respect of any person who is accused of falling under any offense in jurisdiction of the Pakistan Army Act to be amended pending with any court to a court under this Act.
The new sub-section (5) says any proceedings transferred under sub-section (4) shall be deemed to have been instituted under this Act.
The sub-section (6) says where a case is transferred under sub-section (4), it shall not be necessary to record evidence which has already been recorded.
As amendment to Section 2 of the Pakistan Army Act, two new sub-clauses have been inserted.
According to a new sub-clause, any person who is or claims or is known to belong to any terrorist group or organisation using the name of religion or sect and raises army or wages war against Pakistan or attacks the armed forces of Pakistan and law enforcement agencies, or attacks any civil or military installations in Pakistan or kidnaps any person for ransom or causes death of any person or injury shall be punished under this Act.
The same sub-clause says any person in possession, storage, fabrication or transport of explosives, fire-arms, instruments, articles, suicide jackets or receivers or provides funding from any foreign or local sources for such illegal activities and acts or does any act over-awe the state or any section of public or a sect or a religious minority or to create terror or insecurity in Pakistan or attempts to commit any of the said acts, within or outside Pakistan shall be punished under this Act.
Another new sub-clause in the Pakistan Army Act says any person who is or claims or is known to belong to any terrorist group organisation using the name of religion or a sect, commits an offence mentioned in Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014.
According to an explanation, in this Act, expression ‘sect’ means a sect of religion and does not include any political party registered under any law for the time being in force.
The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2015 which shall come into force at once, shall remain in force for a period of two years from the date of its commencement and shall cease to form part of the Act and shall stand repealed on the expiration of the said period unless extended by resolution passed by each house of Parliament.
The statement of objects and reasons says there exists grave and unprecedented threat to the integrity of Pakistan by the raising of arms and insurgency using the name of religion and a sect by groups of foreign and locally funded elements including warriors using the name of the religion or a sect who are to be severely dealt with under the law.
Muhammad Saleh Zaafir adds: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was present in the House when the bills were tabled while PTI leader Imran Khan and his legislators stayed away.
Imran Khan had left the country for London early Saturday morning much before the commencement of the National Assembly session.
The bills are likely to be passed unanimously without much debate from either side in Parliament, as the whole national leadership agreed to the amendments an evening before in the PM House in the presence of the prime minister and Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif.
The constitutional amendment bill will require two-thirds majority of the total participants in both the 342-seat National Assembly and the 104-seat Senate to be passed. However, the Army Act can be passed by a simple majority.
The constitutional amendment will require the support of 228 members in the National Assembly and 69 members in Senate for the passage of constitutional amendments.
All the parliamentary groups have assured in the All Parties Conference (APC) held on Friday that they would pass the bills without any debate and the appeal for the same was made by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

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