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Overview of Article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, adopted in 1973, serves as the supreme law of the land. Of its many provisions, Article 248 stands out as being essential in giving certain officeholders special privileges and immunities from prosecution or legal protection in Pakistan. Assimilating its details will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of executive authority dynamics as well as legal protections within Pakistan.
Article 248 States
248. Protection to President, Governor, Minister, etc
- The President, a Governor, the Prime Minister, a Federal Minister, a Minister of State, the Chief Minister and a Provincial Minister shall not he answerable to any court for the exercise of powers and performance of functions of their respective offices or for any act done or purported to be done in the exercise of those powers and performance of those functions:
Provided that nothing in this clause shall be construed as restricting the right of any person to bring appropriate proceedings against the Federation or a Province.
- No criminal proceedings whatsoever shall be instituted or continued against the President or a Governor in any court during his term of office.
- No process for the arrest or imprisonment of the President or a Governor shall issue from any court during his term of office.
- No civil proceedings in which relief is claimed against the President or a Governor shall be instituted during his term of office in respect of anything done by or not done by him in his personal capacity whether before or after he enters upon his office unless, at least sixty days before the proceedings are instituted, notice in writing has been delivered to him, or sent to him in the manner prescribed by law, stating the nature of the proceedings, the cause of action, the name, description and place of residence of the party by whom the proceedings are to be instituted and the relief which the party claims.
Key Points of Article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Immunity from Legal Proceedings: The article provides a shield against legal actions for acts performed in the exercise of official duties. This immunity extends to the President, Governors, Prime Minister, Federal Ministers, Ministers of State, Chief Ministers, and Provincial Ministers.
- Criminal Proceedings Immunity: During their term of office, the President and Governors enjoy complete immunity from criminal proceedings. This provision aims to insulate them from legal challenges that might impede the smooth execution of their official responsibilities.
- No Arrest or Imprisonment: Article 248 explicitly prohibits the issuance of processes for the arrest or imprisonment of the President or Governors during their term of office, ensuring their freedom from legal constraints that might hinder their duties.
- Civil Proceedings with Notice Requirement: While civil proceedings can be initiated against these high-ranking officials, a significant procedural safeguard is introduced. Notice in writing must be provided at least sixty days before instituting such proceedings, outlining the nature of the case, cause of action, and relief sought.
Crux of Article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan
At its core, Article 248 seeks to strike a delicate balance between the need to protect the officials entrusted with critical responsibilities and the imperative to ensure accountability. The framers of the Constitution recognized the significance of shielding leaders from undue legal distractions, allowing them to focus on governance. Simultaneously, the provision incorporates safeguards to prevent absolute immunity, preserving the citizen’s right to bring legitimate proceedings against the government entities.
The constitutional architects, while formulating Article 248, likely envisioned a scenario where legal challenges could disrupt the functioning of the executive branch. By providing this shield, they aimed to maintain a stable and efficient governance structure. The sixty-day notice requirement in civil proceedings serves as a compromise, affording individuals the right to legal recourse while preventing hasty or frivolous litigation that could hamper the efficacy of governance.
Conclusion: Article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan
In conclusion, Article 248 of the Constitution of Pakistan represents a distinctive feature of the legal landscape, offering a delicate balance between executive immunity and accountability. It underscores the significance of shielding high-ranking officials from constant legal scrutiny during their terms, thereby fostering an environment conducive to effective governance. The provision, however, is not without its limitations, preserving citizens’ rights to seek legal remedies against the government when warranted.
Understanding the intricacies of Article 248 is vital for comprehending the interplay between executive authority and legal constraints in Pakistan’s constitutional framework. As the nation continues to evolve, the application and interpretation of this article will inevitably shape the dynamics of governance and the pursuit of justice.