THE promulgation of an ordinance by the President on Sunday that permits the provincial governments to constitute as many mobile courts as possible in a district, with emergency powers like holding summary trials and awarding punishments on the spot, constitutes a clear violation of the country's basic document. It is a dictatorial move, plain and simple, with unlimited powers in the hands of the magistrate concerned and it usurps the fundamental rights of the people. The punishment, once awarded, is not subject to right of appeal. Nor does there seem a possibility of having the services of an attorney by the accused. It is entirely unexpected of a democratic dispensation that came into power on the score of denunciation of General Musharraf's absolute rule by the entire spectrum of the country's politically conscious public, including the PPP and its allies in the government. It deserves thorough condemnation from all political forces in the country and abroad. Strangely, though, the ordinance's preamble suggests that the National Assembly was not in session, while the common understanding was that the session that began on Saturday at the instance of the PML(N) had not been prorogued, and had been merely adjourned for the Sunday holiday. Thus, the ordinance militates against the clear wording of the Constitution, which only envisages that the President could issue an ordinance in an emergency situation when the National Assembly was not in session. It is rather difficult to understand the urgency behind its promulgation that compelled the President to have recourse to this unconstitutional draconian measure without giving Parliament an opportunity (its legitimate right) to debate. The only possible explanation for such an ill-advised presidential step that comes to mind is that the government has become unnerved at the prospects of success of the long march for the restoration of the deposed judiciary, with the PML(N), several other political parties, civil society and the people in general supporting it. Suppressing a popular movement through the summary courts would not help the government. It would prove utterly counterproductive. Such summary courts were also established in the past in the name of speedy justice and Mian Nawaz Sharif turned out to be their victim. The decision to set up mobile courts harks back to the dictatorial era. It is therefore advisable for the government to withdraw the ordinance without delay unless it wants to face a raft of court cases challenging its validity and let the security situation slide into chaos and instability.