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Overview of Article 203C of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, adopted in 1973, serves as the foundational legal document for the country. Among its numerous articles, Article 203C stands out as a pivotal provision, carving a niche for the establishment and functioning of the Federal Shariat Court. This blog post delves into the intricate details of Article 203C, shedding light on its purpose, structure, and key components.
Article 203C States
203C. The Federal Shariat Court
- There shall be constituted for the purposes of this Chapter a court to be called the Federal Shariat Court.
- The Court shall consist of not more than eight Muslim Judges, including the Chief Justice, to be appointed by the President in accordance with Article 175A.
- The Chief Justice shall be a person who is, or has been, or is qualified, to be, a Judge of the Supreme Court or who is or has been a permanent Judge of a High Court.
- Of the Judges not more than four shall be persons each one of whom is, or has been, or is qualified to be, a Judge of a High Court and not more than three shall be ulema having at least fifteen years experience in Islamic law, research or instruction.
- The Chief Justice and a Judge shall hold office for a period not exceeding three years, but may be appointed for such further term or terms as the President may determine:
Provided that a Judge of a High Court shall not be appointed to be a Judge except with his consent and, except where the Judge is, himself the Chief Justice, after consultation by the President with the Chief Justice of the High Court.
- The Chief Justice, if he is not a Judge of the Supreme Court, and a Judge who is not a Judge of a High Court, may, by writing under his hand addressed to the President, resign his office.
- The Chief Justice and a Judge shall not be removed from office except in the like manner and on the like grounds as a Judge of the Supreme Court.
- The Principal seat of the Court shall be at Islamabad, but Court may from time to time sit in such other places in Pakistan as the Chief Justice may, with the approval of the President, appoint.
- Before entering upon office, the Chief Justice and a Judge shall make before the President or a person nominated by him oath in the form set out in the Third Schedule.
- At any time when the Chief Justice or a Judge is absent or is unable to perform the functions of his office the President shall appoint another person qualified for the purpose to act as Chief Justice or, as the case may be, Judge.
- A Chief Justice who is not a Judge of the Supreme Court shall be entitled to the same remuneration, allowances and privileges as are admissible to a Judge of the Supreme Court and a Judge who is not a Judge of a High Court shall be entitled to the same remuneration, allowances, and privileges as are admissible to a Judge of a High Court:
Provided that where a Judge is already drawing a pension for any other post in the service of Pakistan, the amount of such pension shall be deducted from the pension admissible under this clause.
Key Points of Article 203C of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Composition: The Federal Shariat Court comprises not more than eight Muslim Judges, including the Chief Justice, appointed by the President as per Article 175A. The Chief Justice must possess qualifications akin to a Judge of the Supreme Court or a permanent Judge of a High Court.
- Qualifications of Judges: Among the Judges, a balance is maintained, with up to four being qualified to be Judges of a High Court and up to three being ulema with a substantial background in Islamic law, research, or instruction.
- Term of Office: Both the Chief Justice and Judges serve for terms not exceeding three years, with provisions for reappointment being set by the President. Consent and consultation from the Chief Justice are necessary before an individual Judge can be appointed.
- Seat of the Court: While the principal seat is in Islamabad, the Chief Justice, with the President’s approval, has the authority to designate other locations within Pakistan for the Court to convene.
- Oath of Office: Before assuming office, the Chief Justice and Judges are mandated to take an oath in a prescribed form before the President or a nominated representative.
- Remuneration: Entitlements for the Chief Justice and Judges mirror those of their counterparts in the Supreme Court and High Court. Any existing pension for another post is subject to deduction from the remuneration under specific circumstances.
Crux of Article 203C of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 203C is the linchpin in the intricate machinery of ensuring the compatibility of national laws with the tenets of Islam. By establishing the Federal Shariat Court, the Constitution of Pakistan underscores the significance of maintaining harmony between legal and religious principles. The deliberate inclusion of ulema among the Judges signifies a commitment to incorporating Islamic expertise in the legal decision-making process.
The three-year term for the Chief Justice and Judges, along with stringent removal procedures, aims to uphold judicial independence while also maintaining accountability. The provision for reappointment acknowledges the potential need for experienced individuals to continue their service in steering the court.
The geographical flexibility in choosing the court’s sitting locations showcases a pragmatic approach, recognizing the diverse legal landscape within Pakistan.
Conclusion: Article 203C of the Constitution of Pakistan
In conclusion, Article 203C of the Constitution of Pakistan emerges as a cornerstone in the legal architecture of the nation. It reflects a harmonious blend of Islamic values and democratic principles, epitomizing Pakistan’s commitment to maintaining a legal system rooted in its cultural and religious heritage. As the Federal Shariat Court continues to play a crucial role in shaping the legal landscape, Article 203C stands as a testament to the nation’s dedication to upholding Islamic principles within the framework of a constitutional democracy.
In navigating the constitutional intricacies of Pakistan, the 1973 constitution’s articles, particularly Article 203C, serve as a guide, ensuring that the legal landscape remains a reflection of the nation’s commitment to its foundational principles. Through this exploration, we gain insights into the delicate balance between tradition and modernity, shaping the path for Pakistan’s legal evolution.