Table of Contents
Overview of Article 271 of the Constitution of Pakistan
The Constitution of Pakistan, adopted in 1973, serves as the foundational document guiding the nation’s governance. Within its comprehensive framework, Article 271 plays a pivotal role in defining the composition and functioning of the First National Assembly. This blog post delves into the intricate details of Article 271, offering insights into its key points and the broader constitutional context.
Article 271 States
271. First National Assembly
- Notwithstanding anything contained in the Constitution, but subject to Article 63, Article 64 and Article 223 :-
- the first National Assembly shall consist of-:
- persons who have taken oath in the National Assembly of Pakistan existing immediately before the commencing day, and
- the persons to be elected in accordance with law by the members of the Assembly to fill the seats referred to in clause (2A) of Article 51,
- and, unless sooner dissolved, shall continue until the fourteenth day of August, one thousand nine hundred and seventy-seven; and reference to “total membership” of the National Assembly in the Constitution shall be construed accordingly;
- the qualifications and disqualifications for being elected and being a member of the first National Assembly shall, except in case of members filling casual vacancies, or to be elected to the additional seats referred to in clause (2A) of Article 51, after the commencing day, be the same as under the Interim Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan:
- the first National Assembly shall consist of-:
Provided that no person holding an office of profit in the service of Pakistan shall continue to be a member of the first National Assembly after the expiration of three months from the commencing day.
- If a person referred to in paragraph (a) of clause (1) is, immediately before the commencing day, also a member of a Provincial Assembly, he shall not take a seat in the National Assembly or the Provincial Assembly until he resigns one of his seats.
- A casual vacancy in a seat in the first National Assembly, including a vacancy in a seat in the National Assembly of Pakistan existing before the commencing day which was not filled before that day, caused by reason of death or resignation of a member or consequent upon his incurring a disqualification or ceasing to be a member as a result of the final decision of an election petition may be filled in the same manner in which it would have been filled before the commencing day.
- A person referred to in paragraph (a) of clause (1) shall not sit or vote in the National Assembly until he has made the oath prescribed by Article 65 and, if, without the leave of the Speaker of the National Assembly granted on reasonable cause shown, he fails to make the oath within twenty-one days from the day of the first meeting of the Assembly, his seat shall become vacant at the expiration of that period.
Key Points of Article 271 of the Constitution of Pakistan
- Qualifications and Disqualifications: Article 271 harmonizes the qualifications and disqualifications for the First National Assembly members with the provisions under the Interim Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. An intriguing exception bars individuals holding an office of profit in the service of Pakistan from continuing as members beyond three months from the commencing day.
- Dual Memberships: The article addresses a potential dual allegiance issue by prohibiting a person simultaneously holding seats in both the National Assembly and a Provincial Assembly before the commencing day. Resignation from one of the seats is mandatory to avoid conflicts of interest.
- Casual Vacancies: A mechanism is established for filling casual vacancies in the First National Assembly, encompassing situations arising from the death, resignation, disqualification, or final decision of an election petition. The process mirrors the pre-commencing day procedures.
- Oath Requirement: Emphasizing the significance of allegiance, Article 271 mandates members to take the prescribed oath before participating in National Assembly proceedings. Failure to do so within twenty-one days from the first meeting results in the automatic vacation of the member’s seat, underscoring the constitutional commitment to adherence.
Crux of Article 271 of the Constitution of Pakistan
At its core, Article 271 reflects a transitional provision in the evolving constitutional landscape of Pakistan. It meticulously addresses the intricacies of establishing the First National Assembly under the new constitutional order. By amalgamating existing members with elected representatives, the article charts a course for the nascent assembly, defining its duration and contours.
In navigating the crux of Article 271, one discerns a balance between continuity and adaptation. The retention of certain constitutional principles from the preceding interim constitution ensures a seamless transition, while the prohibition on dual memberships guards against potential conflicts that might arise in a dynamic political landscape.
Conclusion: Article 271 of the Constitution of Pakistan
In conclusion, Article 271 serves as a cornerstone in the constitutional evolution of Pakistan. Its nuanced provisions reflect the delicate task of harmonizing past practices with the demands of a nascent democratic order. The article, woven into the broader fabric of the 1973 Constitution of Pakistan, embodies the nation’s commitment to democratic governance while navigating the intricacies of transition.
As we unravel the layers of Article 271, it becomes evident that the framers of the constitution sought not only to establish a functional National Assembly but also to lay the groundwork for future constitutional amendments. The delicate interplay of continuity and adaptation showcased in Article 271 symbolizes the resilience of Pakistan’s constitutional framework.