ISLAMABAD - Expressing satisfaction on the proposed draft of the federal government for giving rights and powers to the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, the Supreme Court on Friday observed if the region is given virtual status of a province then what else the people would need.

The top court, however, directed the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan to share the document with the committee headed by the AGP, which also includes the representatives of G-B.

The AGP informed the court that Gilgit-Baltistan could not be made a full-fledged province but would be accorded all powers like others. He apprised that the GB government had been empowered in lawmaking and administration and moreover, the legal draft for granting it province-like powers was being prepared which was in final stages.

The seven-judge larger bench of the top court headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar also observed that the committee shall submit its report and this court will examine the input of representatives of G-B before the final order. The larger bench was hearing the case of determining constitutional status of G-B.

The committee is headed by AGP Anwar Mansoor Khan and comprises amicus curiae Aitzaz Ahsan, Salman Akram Raja, G-B Bar Council Vice-Chairman Javed Ahmed, Advocate Chaudhry Afrasiab, G-B Law Minister and Secretary Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs.

At the outset of the hearing, AGP appeared before the bench and informed the bench that he has drafted the relevant law including legislative, executive and judicial powers. He, however, added that in order to make the proposal more effective, some time is required.

The Chief Justice emphasised to consider basic part adding if the region was not declared as province due to some reasons then it must be given powers, the executive, legislative and judicial powers.

He further remarked that the preamble of the proposed draft is impressive which manifest the objectivity of the exercise.

The AGP informed the bench that he tried to match the proposed draft with the Constitution as best as possible, adding all demands of G-B people have been incorporated but some more amendments regarding legislative, governance along with the fundamental rights are required.

“We have taken into account everything and anything possible to give maximum judicial, legislative, executive and fundamental rights to the G-B people as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan,” stated the AGP.

The Chief Justice observed that there must be a solution in between above the G-B Order 2018 and below the Constitution.

The Chief Justice reiterated that preamble of the proposal which contains all three powers including executive, legislative and judiciary along with fundamental rights are at par with the province. The CJP asked whether the issue will be resolved if these powers, contained in the proposed draft, conferred upon.

DAG of G-B informed the bench that they have not seen the draft as yet asking the bench to grant the opportunity to suggest the points.

Accepting the plea of G-B’s law officer, the chief justice also observed that this court will be the guarantor of fundamental rights and no changes could be made in it without the prior approval of this court.

Subsequently, the bench directed authorities to call meeting in this regard at the attorney general’s office on December 13, and it would be headed by the attorney general to finalise the draft bill.

Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, member of the bench, also observed that the powers conferred upon would not be taken away.

When DAG highlighted the issue of election, the chief justice told him that this court is aware of it and the matter has to be done step by step. “If virtual status of province restored then what else would the people of Gilgit Baltistan need,” the chief justice observed adding that it is not a bad transaction until a constitutional amendment is passed by the Parliament.

The top court on request of the DAG for sharing the contents of the proposal and G-B’s view on it constituted a committee and adjourned the hearing till December 24.