ISLAMABAD - A constitutional petition has been moved in the Supreme Court with a plea to interpret the scope of ‘consultation’ between the President and the outgoing Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly for the formation of caretaker governments during the next general election.

PILDAT, an independent political think tank of Pakistan, has filed the petition through its counsel Shahid Hamid in the apex court under Article 184 of the Constitution.

The petitioner requested the court to interpret the word ‘consultation’ so that all the parties are clear about their role in the consultative process.

The petition said: “Article 224 (1A) of the Constitution of Pakistan, after 18th amendment to the Constitution, provides for the appointment of caretaker prime minister and caretaker chief ministers by the President of Pakistan and the concerned Governors respectively in consultation with the prime minister/chief ministers and leaders of opposition in the outgoing assemblies. However, there is no definition of the word ‘consultation’ in the Constitution”

It also stated that serious disputes that had already arisen in connection with the interpretation of the word ‘Consultation’ with regard to the appointment of Chairman NAB between the President and the Leader of the Opposition. While the President maintains that he had sought the views of the Leader of the Opposition through a letter and though Leader of the Opposition did not agree with the President, the act of consultation was accomplished and the requirement of the law was fulfilled. The Leader of the Opposition feels that the consultation should be consensus oriented. Leader of the Opposition has challenged the appointment of the current Chairman NAB on the grounds that real consultation did not take place.

PILDAT said that since the “neutrality” of the Caretaker Governments was essential for holding a free and fair election in Pakistan and this situation might also arise at the time of General Election if the President and the Leader of the Opposition did not agree on the name of a Caretaker Prime Minister, “Similar situation may also arise in the provinces”.

PILDAT believed that the need for genuinely neutral caretaker governments at the federal and provincial levels is even more pressing as the incumbent President is also the head of a political party and at least three Provincial Governors are also well known party leaders. The Constitution does not envisage the replacement of the President and Provincial Governors during the elections.

PILDAT expressed apprehension that a Constitutional deadlock may arise if the President and the Leader of the Opposition fail to agree on a consensus caretaker government. Approaching the Courts for the resolution of such a deadlock in that scenario and the time will lead to confusion and chaos due to the time-bar of holding General Election once announced.