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Overview of Article 224 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, passed in 1973, serves as the supreme law of Pakistan and provides fundamental principles and framework for governance. Of its many articles, Article 224 stands as an essential provision regulating elections and by-elections for National and Provincial Assemblies; thus ensuring robust democracy processes take place on schedule.
Article 224 States
224. Time of election and by-election
- A general election to the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly shall be held within a period of sixty days immediately following the day on which the day on which the term of the Assembly is due to expire, unless the Assembly has been sooner dissolved, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days before that day.
- On dissolution of the Assembly on completion of its term, or in case it is dissolved under Article 58 or Article 112, the President, or the Governor, as the case may be, shall appoint a care-taker Cabinet:
Provided that the care-taker Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing National Assembly, and a care-taker Chief Minister shall be appointed by the Governor in consultation with the Chief Minister and the Leader of the Opposition in the outgoing Provincial Assembly:
Provided further that if the Prime Minister or a Chief Minister and their respective Leader of the Opposition do not agree on any person to be appointed as a care-taker Prime Minister or the care-taker Chief Minister, as the case may be, the provisions of Article 224A shall be followed:
Provided also that the Members of the Federal and Provincial care-taker Cabinets shall be appointed on the advice of the care-taker Prime Minister or the care-taker Chief Minister, as the case may be.
- Members of the care-taker Cabinets including the care-taker Prime Minister and the care-taker Chief Minister and their immediate family members shall not be eligible to contest the immediately following elections to such Assemblies.
Explanation:– In this clause “immediate family members” means spouse and children.
- When the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly is dissolved, a general election to the Assembly shall be held within a period of ninety days after the dissolution, and the results of the election shall be declared not later than fourteen days after the conclusion of the polls.
- An election to fill the seats in the Senate which are to become vacant on the expiration of the term of the members of the Senate shall be held not earlier than thirty days immediately preceding the day on which the vacancies are due to occur.
- When, except by dissolution of the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly, a seat in any such Assembly has become vacant not later than one hundred and twenty days before the term of that Assembly is due to expire, an election to fill the seat shall be held within sixty days from the occurrence of the vacancy.
- When a seat in the Senate has become vacant, an election to fill the seat shall be held within thirty days from the occurrence of the vacancy.
- When a seat reserved for women or non-Muslims in the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly falls vacant, on account of death, resignation or disqualification of a member, it shall be filled by the next person in order of precedence from the party list of the candidates to be submitted to the Election Commission by the political party whose member has vacated such seat:
Provided that if at any time the party list is exhausted, the concerned political party may submit a name for any vacancy which may occur thereafter.
Key Points of Article 224 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- General Elections Timeline: Article 224 mandates that general elections for the National Assembly or a Provincial Assembly must be conducted within sixty days following the expiry of the Assembly’s term or its dissolution. Results must be declared at least fourteen days before the term concludes.
- Care-taker Government Appointment: In case of Assembly dissolution, a care-taker government is appointed. The Prime Minister and Chief Minister are selected in consultation with relevant political figures. If disputes arise, Article 224A is invoked. Members of the care-taker Cabinets and their immediate family members are barred from contesting the subsequent elections.
- Election Timing after Dissolution: After the dissolution of the National or Provincial Assembly, general elections must occur within ninety days, with results declared within fourteen days post-polls.
- Senate Elections: Elections to fill Senate vacancies are scheduled not earlier than thirty days before the term expiration of Senate members.
- By-Elections: Vacant seats trigger by-elections within sixty days (for National or Provincial Assemblies) or thirty days (for the Senate).
- Reserved Seats: If seats reserved for women or non-Muslims become vacant, the next person on the party list succeeds, ensuring representation continuity.
Crux of Article 224 of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 224 serves as the guardian of the democratic process in Pakistan. Its meticulous provisions ensure that the electoral machinery functions smoothly, allowing for the timely transition of power and representation. The appointment of care-taker governments prevents power vacuums and ensures stability during transitional phases.
The article’s emphasis on specific timelines for elections and by-elections reflects a commitment to upholding democratic principles. By setting clear guidelines, Article 224 aims to prevent any undue delays or disruptions in the electoral process, fostering a robust and accountable democratic system.
Conclusion: Article 224 of the Constitution of Pakistan
Article 224 of Pakistan’s Constitution stands as a testimony to our nation’s commitment to democracy and effective governance, providing a clear roadmap for elections and caretaker governments making a crucial contribution towards upholding both stability and legitimacy within our political system.
As Pakistan continues to navigate the complexities of governance, Article 224 remains a cornerstone, guiding the nation through the intricate processes of democracy. Its provisions ensure that the will of the people is accurately and timely reflected in the composition of the government, reinforcing the principles upon which the Constitution of Pakistan was built.