Issuing Ordinances Is 'Undemocratic', Says Supreme Court

Issuing Ordinances Is 'Undemocratic', Says Supreme Court
The Supreme Court (SC), while reviewing petitions submitted by sacked employees against its earlier decision, observed that issuing ordinances was an undemocratic practice.

The review petitions filed by sacked employees against the August 17 verdict of the apex court, which had struck down the Sacked Employees (Reinstatement) Ordinance Act, was being heard by a five-member bench of the court, headed by Justice Umar Ata Bandial.

Hamid Khan, the counsel for the sacked employees of Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) informed the court, during the proceedings, that 1,122 of his employees were from Balochistan and Sindh. Khan said that the employees had been recruited in 1996 and were removed from service in 1997 and 1999. “These employees had become regular, so the Federal Service Tribunal [FST] reinstated them”, he said.

Khan further said that FST’s decision was challenged by the department before the top court but the court had maintained the decision.

Justice Bandial said that the court would have to review the procedure for the reinstatement of the employees. He further said that the court had to observe the status of the employees appointed through the ordinance.

While Justice Mansoor Ali Shah questioned why the Act was issued to give relief to a specific group. Further, he raised the question as to whether any benefit could be given to employees who had served for 10 to 12 years. The judge remarked that issuing ordinances was not a democratic process.

The current Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is often criticised by the opposition for relying on ordinances as a tool for hurried legislation, while flouting the due process.

The official data shows that during the third parliamentary year which ended on August 12 the government promulgated 18 ordinances.

Last year, the government had mostly depended on promulgation of ordinances for doing legislation and issued as many as 31 ordinances, while the government during its three-year tenure has promulgated a total of 56 ordinances so far.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) repeatedly criticised what it terms the 'ordinance culture', with PPP Senator Sherry Rehman denouncing the ordinances.

On November 17 this year, the government bulldozed 33 bills through a joint sitting of parliament, some of which dealt with important issues and, according to observers, merited further input from stakeholders. The role of parliament is said to be undermined by the frequent issuances of ordinances.