Natural Resource Fund Act should be challenged in court
The NRF law passed by the PPP/C should be challenged in court on procedural rules (and I don’t refer to presence and absence of the mace) and whether they violated Article 13 of the constitution as well as whether it is harmful to the public good. The court has the power to scrutinise any law, once approached, to determine whether it is consistent with the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution to the people. The public was not allowed much input. Article 13 was violated, making the law unconstitutional if the court so determines. It can be challenged in the name of the group Article 13.
Challenging the law would determine the relevance and influence of the group calling itself Article 13 and whether the parliament respects public participation in governance. It will also empower the court to determine whether a law serves the public good.
The Local Content bill was in the public domain for a long time allowing for enough venting of views. There does not seem to be much, if any, disagreement over it. But it, too, can be challenged if sufficient time is not granted for public and parliamentary input and whether the law itself does not serve the public good.
The PPP government, any government with a majority of legislators, has the power to pass Acts in parliament. The constitution is so constructed. But parliament hurriedly passed the NRF law. The ruling party railroaded the process not allowing enough time for public discourse and parliamentary debate. Unless both the ruling party and opposition agree to expedite the process under an emergency need and allocate equal time for debate, the bill should run its normal course of allowing a fair amount of time for contributions from every sitting member of the House as well as input from the public with “public consultations” nationwide as required in Article 13.
The Court should grant a stay of the implementation of the laws but also appoint a team of experts in the area of legislation to submit a report on these pieces of legislation – were the people given enough time to vent their opinions, do the laws serve the public good, were MPs given a fair amount of time for debate. The issue over the mace is idiotic; if someone opposed to a bill runs away with the mace, does it mean a law cannot be passed? No court would agree to such self-serving interpretation of the passage of a law. As I said, the majority has the authority to pass laws but it must be done with respect for the principles of fair play and maximum public involvement.
In a democracy, ultimately, sovereignty vests with the people who must be able to exercise power through their views. Parliamentarians have only a limited brief of legislating on their behalf only after considerable discussion with the public. Let the court determine if procedural rules were violated and whether the law is harmful to the public good.