Table of Contents
Overview of Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, enacted in 1973, stands as the cornerstone of the nation’s legal framework. Among its various articles, Article 199 holds a distinctive position, outlining the jurisdiction and powers of the High Court in specific circumstances. This blog post aims to provide a comprehensive exploration of Article 199, shedding light on its key provisions and significance in the constitutional landscape of Pakistan.
Article 199 States
199. Jurisdiction of High Court
- Subject to the Constitution, a High Court may, if it is satisfied that no other adequate remedy is provided by law,-
- on the application of any aggrieved party, make an order-
- directing a person performing, within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court, functions in connection with the affairs of the Federation, a Province or a local authority, to refrain from doing anything he is not permitted by law to do, or to do anything he is required by law to do; or
- declaring that any act done or proceeding taken within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court by a person performing functions in connection with the affairs of the Federation, a Province or a local authority has been done or taken without lawful authority and is of no legal effect; or
- on the application of any person, make an order-
- directing that a person in custody within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court be brought before it so that the Court may satisfy itself that he is not being held in custody without lawful authority or in an unlawful manner; or
- requiring a person within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court holding or purporting to hold a public office to show under what authority of law he claims to hold that office; or
- on the application of any aggrieved person, make an order giving such directions to any person or authority, including any Government exercising any power or performing any function in, or in relation to, any territory within the jurisdiction of that Court as may be appropriate for the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter 1 of Part II.
- on the application of any aggrieved party, make an order-
- Subject to the Constitution, the right to move a High Court for the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights conferred by Chapter 1 of Part II shall not be abridged.
- An order shall not be made under clause (1) on application made by or in relation to a person who is a member of the Armed Forces of Pakistan, or who is for the time being subject to any law relating to any of those Forces, in respect of his terms and conditions of service, in respect of any matter arising out of his service, or in respect of any action taken in relation to him as a member of the Armed Forces of Pakistan or as a person subject to such law.
- Where- the Court shall not make an interim order unless the prescribed law officer has been given notice of the application and he or any person authorised by him in that behalf has had an opportunity of being heard and the Court, for reasons to be recorded in writing, is satisfied that the interim order-
- an application is made to a High Court for an order under paragraph (a) or paragraph (c) of clause (1), and
- the making of an interim order would have the effect of prejudicing or interfering with the carrying out of a public work or of otherwise being harmful to public interest 463[or state property] 463 or of impeding the assessment or collection of public revenues,
- would not have such effect as aforesaid; or
- would have the effect of suspending an order or proceeding which on the face of the record is without jurisdiction.
- An interim order made by a High Court on an application made to it to question the validity or legal effect of any order made, proceeding taken or act done by any authority or person, which has been made, taken or done or purports to have been made, taken or done under any law which is specified in Part I of the First Schedule or relates to, or is connected with, State property or assessment or collection of public revenues shall cease to have effect on the expiration of a period of six months following the day on which it is made:
- Provided that the matter shall be finally decided by the High Court within six months from the date on which the interim order in made.
- Every case in which, on an application under clause (1), the High Court has made an interim order shall be disposed of by the High Court on merits within six months from the day on which it is made, unless the High Court is prevented from doing so for sufficient cause to be recorded.
- In this Article, unless the context otherwise requires,-
- “person” includes any body politic or corporate, any authority of or under the control of the Federal Government or of a Provincial Government, and any Court or tribunal, other than the Supreme Court, a High Court or a Court or tribunal established under a law relating to the Armed Forces of Pakistan;
- and “prescribed law officer” means
- in relation to an application affecting the Federal Government or an authority of or under the control of the Federal Government, the Attorney-General, and
- in any other case, the Advocate-General for the Province in which the application is made.
Key Points of Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Enforcement of Fundamental Rights: Article 199 underscores the High Court’s role in upholding Fundamental Rights as enshrined in Chapter 1 of Part II of the Constitution. It explicitly safeguards the right to move a High Court for the enforcement of these rights, emphasizing that this right shall not be abridged.
- Limitations on Orders Regarding Armed Forces: Recognizing the unique nature of the Armed Forces, Article 199 places limitations on the court’s jurisdiction concerning members of the Armed Forces. It prohibits the court from entertaining applications related to terms and conditions of service or matters arising out of military service.
- Conditions for Making Interim Orders: The article establishes stringent conditions for the issuance of interim orders. Notably, before making such orders, the prescribed law officer must be given notice, providing an opportunity for a hearing. This provision aims to balance the court’s power with the potential impact on public works, public interest, or state property.
- Validity of Interim Orders: Article 199 introduces a significant provision (4A) wherein interim orders made by the High Court cease to have effect after six months unless the matter is finally decided. This ensures a timely resolution of legal issues and prevents prolonged uncertainty stemming from interim measures.
- Timeline for Disposal of Cases: To ensure expeditious justice, Article 199 (4B) mandates that cases in which interim orders are made must be disposed of on merits within six months, unless the court records sufficient cause for any delay. This provision aims to prevent undue delays in the resolution of legal matters.
Crux of Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan
At its core, Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan empowers the High Court to act as a guardian of fundamental rights, providing a mechanism for citizens to seek redress when no other adequate remedy is available. It strikes a delicate balance between individual liberties and the broader public interest, recognizing the unique challenges posed by issues related to the Armed Forces.
The article’s meticulous provisions, such as the limitations on orders concerning the Armed Forces, conditions for interim orders, and the time frame for case disposal, collectively contribute to a legal framework that seeks justice while considering the broader implications on public interest and governance.
Conclusion: Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan
Overall, Article 199 stands as an impressive testament to Pakistan’s dedication to justice, fairness, and the protection of fundamental rights. It weaves an intricate web of legal principles that not only empower the High Court but also guarantee a delicate balance between citizen rights and government exigencies. When traversing Pakistan’s complex legal landscape, Article 199 serves as an illuminating pillar symbolizing its commitment to fairness, justice and the protection of fundamental rights.
In the intricate mosaic of the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Article 199 shines as a beacon, guiding the judiciary in its mission to deliver justice and uphold the constitutional values that underpin the nation’s legal system.