Is it possible for a bill to pass without the President's signature?


Is it possible for a bill to pass without the President's signature?

Arif alvi
Arif alvi

After a recent statement by the President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, this issue is under discussion that what is the status of the amendments in the controversial Official Secrets Act and the Army Act? 

This is the biggest question whether these bills passed by both houses have become law without the President's signature or not. 

Is the President's signature necessary for legislation in Pakistan and does a bill become a law by itself if the President does not take any legal route? 

Before answering these questions, let's understand how a file works in the President's office. 

It should be noted that President Dr. Arif Alvi says that he did not sign the two bills but sent them back. He accused the presidential staff of disobeying the order, but the law ministry has blamed the president himself for the delay in processing the bills.

How does the presidency work?

Arif alvi

Speaking to the BBC, a former officer attached to the Presidency has said that the staff of the Prime Minister's House and the Presidency is divided into two departments. 

The first of these departments is called 'Internal Wing' which is headed by the Military Secretary to the President and the Prime Minister. The military secretary is usually a one-star military officer, known as a brigadier.

Under the Military Secretary there is a Deputy Military Secretary and under him three ADCs representing the three armed forces. Under him, a team consists of security officers and staff and a team of protocol officers and staff. 

The work of the internal wing is to manage the President's personal affairs, his security, internal and external visits and meetings etc. 

The second wing of the Presidency is headed by the most senior bureaucratic officer, the Secretary to the President. They are government officers of 21st grade. Under him is a full secretariat which includes additional secretaries, joint secretaries, deputy secretaries and other office staff. 

Any file requiring the President's signature or assent first goes to the Section Officer on the staff of the Presidency who comes last in the list of officers. 

The section officer reviews this file. Now in this file the text of this application, act is entered on the right side and all its documents are attached. 

A Minute Sheet or Notice for Consideration (NFC) is pasted on the left side of this file, where the Section Officer writes in brief about this file that it is such and such a file which has come from the National Assembly, Senate or such Ministry and It is then sent to the Assistant Secretary for approval. 

From here the file goes to the Joint Secretary, then the Deputy Secretary and then the Secretary to the President who takes the file to the President. During all these steps, notes are written on this file, it is checked and any deficiencies are corrected or sent back to the concerned ministry. 

After reaching the President, if he gives his stamp of approval, the work is complete and if not, it is sent back with a 'disapproval'. 

The return of any file also follows the same chain of command through which it first reached the office of the President. The section officer forwards the file to the concerned institution, department, ministry or parliament with objections on getting the file back.

How do bills passed by the National Assembly and the Senate reach the President?

Files reaching the President for signature from Ministries or other institutions may have several technical issues which require correspondence between the staff of the Presidency and the concerned Ministries. 

However, the sub-department of parliamentary affairs from the National Assembly or the Senate first sends the relevant bill to the Prime Minister's House, from where the bill is sent to the President. 

Article 75 of the Constitution lays down the procedure in case any bill is signed by the President or not. According to this article of the constitution, whenever a bill goes to the president, he has two options, one is to approve the bill and sign it and thus the act becomes a law. 

Another option is to not sign it and send it back to Parliament with a request for amendments. 

Keep in mind that the President has 10 days to do all this. And any bill except money bill can be returned. 

The same clause further states that when the President sends the bill back without his signature, the bill will now be tabled in a joint session of the National Assembly and the Senate where it will be discussed further. 

After being approved by the majority vote, this bill will once again reach the President's House through the Prime Minister's House. The bill coming from the joint session has to be signed by the President within 10 days and if it is not done, after 10 days the bill automatically becomes a law and the President's signature is no longer required. 

Does a bill become law without the President's signature?

This is the main point being discussed at the moment. 

Nosheen Yusuf, a senior journalist who monitors parliamentary affairs, says that the constitution is silent on the issue of whether the bill will become a law if it is not returned in the joint session. 

"The constitution has certain confusion, she claim. When the President signs or sends back the bill, a joint session must be convened within ten days. 

The Constitution is clear on this that after the approval of the joint session of the Parliament, this bill will automatically become a law even if the President does not sign it. But the condition is that this will happen only after the approval of the joint meeting. But if this bill is not presented in the joint session, can it still take the form of law, the constitution is silent on it. 

It should be noted that Clause 2 of Article 75 of the Constitution is actually related to Sub-Clause B of Clause 1 which deals with the return of the Bill by the President and its presentation in a joint session of the Parliament. 

According to the Caretaker Law Minister Ahmed Irfan Aslam, these two amendment bills have now become laws due to the fact that the President did not take any legal action on the two bills. 

However, former federal law minister Ali Zafar does not agree with the caretaker law minister's opinion. 

They say that even if the President mistakenly does not take any legal route, the bill will not become a law until it is presented again before a joint session of Parliament. 

According to him, after the approval of the joint session, if the President does not take any legal action for 10 days, then in such a case the bill becomes a law. 

Have the amendments in the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act become law or not?

Caretaker Law Minister Ahmad Irfan Aslam has said that President Arif Alvi 'did not take any action' on the amendments to the Army Act and the Official Secrets Act passed by both houses, so both bills have now become law. 

However, according to Ali Zafar, the caretaker government cannot enact these bills. According to him, the parliament that will come into existence after the general elections will now be able to present these bills before the joint session of this parliament and then even if the president does not sign it, it will become a law after 10 days after the parliamentary approval. . 

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, an expert on constitutional and electoral affairs, while speaking to the private TV channel Geo News, said that it is not clear whether the staff of the Presidency has signed the bills and sent them or if the time is up. It has been approved. 

According to him, it is yet to be clarified whether the President's order was violated or the staff illegally signed and forged it. According to him, if there has been forgery, then the president should take the legal route instead of asking God for forgiveness. 

At the beginning of this year, Salman Akram Raja, talking to reporter Azam Khan about this, said that by the way, the idea is that the office of the President is just a 'post office', but if you look at the constitutional powers he has. If left, they can put many important government issues on hold for a short period of time and cause delays in important decisions. 

According to Salman Akram Raja, under Article 75 of the Constitution, when a bill is sent to the President for approval, he has the authority to give his opinion on it for ten days, and also after 10 days except for the Money Bill (Budget). The President of Pakistan can send this bill back. In such a case, it becomes necessary to convene a joint session of the Parliament to approve the legislation. 

Salman Akram Raja gave an example that in the approval of a bill, members of Tehreek-e-Insaf in the Senate can cause further delay in the joint session. "Even if a joint session is held in this situation, they have the option to make lengthy statements during that session before enacting the law with a simple majority. 

According to him, if the government belongs to another party, then the post of president can create problems. 

Tehreek-e-Insaf leader and former federal minister Zulfi Bukhari has said that Tehreek-e-Insaf will now approach the Supreme Court on this matter.

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