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April 13, 2021

Centre, KP challenge plea against 25th Amend…: SC allows petitioners to file reply to objections

National

April 13, 2021

ISLAMABAD: The federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) governments have raised objections on a petition, filed in the Supreme Court against the 25th Amendment, through which the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) were merged in the KP.

A three-member SC bench, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Muneeb Akhtar and Justice Mazahir Ali Akbar Naqvi, heard a constitutional petition, filed by a large number of elders and Maliks of the former tribal areas.

Last year on Sept 23, the bench had admitted for regular hearing the constitutional petition, challenging the 25th Amendment to the Constitution and had issued notices to the Attorney General for Pakistan, the Advocate General of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and other respondents in the case and had adjourned the hearing for date-in-office (indefinite period).

The petitioners contended that the amendment was passed by violating the basic structure of the Constitution and was, therefore, illegal. They had further submitted that through the amendment, the distinct character of FATA as a unit of the Federation had been destroyed.

On Monday, the court during the course of the proceedings, informed the petitioners’ counsel that the federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments had raised objections on the maintainability of the petition while submitting their replies.

Counsel for the petitioner, Barrister Waseem Sajjad, sought some time for filing his reply on the objection, raised by the federal and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa governments. Justice Umar Ata Bandial observed that the court wanted to hear in detail the interesting case and allowed Waseem Sajjad to submit his reply and adjourned the hearing till after Eidul Fitr.

The federal government, in its reply, had raised objections on the maintainability of the instant petition. It submitted that the petition was filed under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, stating that firstly it could only be invoked when there is any question of fundamental rights, and secondly if any matter relating to public importance was affected at large.

But in the instant petition, the federal government had contended that nothing of that sort had been mentioned in the instant petition but it was an issue related only to the petitioners as well.

The 25th Amendment was passed by the Parliament in May 2018 through which the Tribal Areas were merged in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

In their petitions, the Maliks and elders of former tribal areas had contended that Fata had lost its identity as well as 12 seats in the National Assembly and eight seats in the Senate.

They had submitted that the Amendment deviated from the Objectives Resolution of the Constitution, which could not be permitted.

Similarly, the petitioners had recalled that Quaid-e-Azam, the Father of the Nation, had given a commitment to Fata that no change would be made in their system of governance or way of life without their consultation.

“This commitment had been enshrined in the Constitution under Article 247 by which it has been laid down that no change in the status of Fata would be made without consulting the people of Fata through a jirga,” the petitioners submitted. It was submitted that no jirga, according to tribal traditions and customs, was constituted for the purpose and therefore all proceedings leading to the amendment and the amendment were illegal and against the Constitution.