Feseral Court’s opinion in Governor General’s reference removed the obstacles to establish the Constituent Assembly. Governor General issued two orders; one provided that the method of election for the Constituent Assembly would be the same as was adopted for the Constituent Assembly elected in 1947 i.e. proportional representation with a single transferable vote. The other order fixed the number of members of Constituent Assembly as 80 and provided that it would also function as federal legislature. Each wing of the Pakistan, on parity basis, would have 40 members in the Constituent Assembly.
All previous orders of the Governor General regarding the Constituent Convention were dropped. All the 80 members were to be elected and Governor General was not to make any nomination to the assembly. Thus, members of the second Constituent Assembly elected by the Provincial Legislatures of East Pakistan, Sindh, the Punjab and NWFP by the method of single transferable vote. Special provisions were made for federating units where there were no provincial assemblies. Thus from Karachi the electorate was the Municipal Corporation and from Balochistan it was Shahi Jirga and the un-official members of the Quetta Municipality. The members from Bahawalpur and Frontier States were nominated by their respective rulers.
The second constituent assembly was elected on June 21, 1955. The Muslim League, which had been the sole representative in the first Constituent Assembly, was defeated in the second, gaining only twenty-five members. Only fourteen of the members who won seats in the first Constituent Assembly were able to retain their positions in the second Assembly. This was because the party position had changed in provincial election in East Pakistan in 1954. Muslim League could get only 10 out of 309 seats in the provincial assembly of East Pakistan in 1954. However, with 25 seats, it was still the largest party in the Constituent Assembly. A coalition government of Muslim League and United Front, which had 16 seats, was formed. The former finance minister, Chaudhary Muhammad Ali, became the Prime Minister.
The Constituent Assembly passed the Validation of Laws Act, 1955 in its very first meeting on July 7, 1955 which validated the 38 laws.
The second most important and highly controversial step that was taken by the Constituent Assembly was to pass the bill in 1955 which merged all the provinces of West Pakistan, tribal areas and princely states into One Unit. This was not only against the principles of federalism but was also not liked by the smaller provinces.
Framing the Constitution by 2nd Constituent Assembly
The second Constituent Assembly did not take that much amount of pain for constitution making because most of the work was already done by the first Constituent Assembly. It need not appoint committees, make repots, etc. Secondly it is said that the Ayub, Mirza, Gurmani, Khan Sahib, Suharwardhy, and Choudhry Muhammad Ali agreed on the substance of the new constitution in a private meeting. It was only to be drafted and passed by the Constituent Assembly. Most of the 245 articles in the constitution drafted by the second Constituent Assembly were borrowed from the report which was rejected in 1954.
The second Constituent Assembly also faced certain disadvantages. For example, Muslim League which had monopoly in the first constituent assembly had lost its comfortable majority. It had to make a coalition with the United Front, which was itself comprised of different groups having different political views on constitutional matters such as provincial autonomy, role of religion in the state affairs, etc.
The draft of the Constitution was prepared by second Constituent Assembly in four months. It had 245 articles; Objectives Resolution, with slight changes, was included as a preamble.
Mr. Chundriger, the Law Minister, indicated that the document envisaged the establishment of an independent sovereign state in line with the ideology for which Pakistan came into being.
Reaction to the draft
Muslim League, United Front and other political parties welcomed the draft constitution. However, the major criticism came from the Awami League and termed it unacceptable unless the draft incorporate the famous 21 Point Program, the combined manifesto of Awami League and United Front in 1954 provincial elections. It organized powerful campaign against the draft in East Pakistan. Maulana Bhashani was reported to say ‘we have to think in terms of secession’ if the draft was adopted in present shape ignoring their demands.
Draft approved by the Assembly
When the draft was submitted to the second Constituent Assembly for consideration and approval, 670 notices of amendment were submitted mainly by the Awami League. Members of the coalition also suggested various number of amendments. Out of 245 articles of the draft 179 were passed without any difficulty while 66 articles were left for further deliberation as there were differences on them within the coalition.
The differences between the Muslim League and United Front were on issues like power of the president to dissolve the assembly, his emergency powers, relation between the assembly and cabinet, Islamic provisions, federal capital and national language, etc. However, these differences were resolved through dialogue and compromises between the two coalition partners. The draft Constitution was finally adopted on 29 February, 1956, which came into force on 23 March, same year. Thus, after almost nine years of its independence, Pakistan, getting rid of the Government of India Act, 1935, became a republic having its own democratic constitution.
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