Pakistan President Arif Alvi denies signing bills amending Official Secrets Act, Army Act, triggers row
Islamabad: Pakistan President Arif Alvi on Sunday triggered a controversy when he said he denied signing the Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 and Pakistan Army Amendment Act 2023.
He also tendered an apology to those who would be affected by the passage and implementation of these laws, The News International reported.
On Sunday, he wrote on X: " As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws. "
"I asked my staff to return the bills unsigned within stipulated time to make them ineffective. I confirmed from them many times that whether they have been returned & was assured that they were," Alvi said.
He said: "However I have found out today that my staff undermined my will and command. As Allah knows all, He will forgive IA. But I ask forgiveness from those who will be effected."
The statement opened a Pandora’s box as immediately after the post, the Ministry of Law and Justice said in a press statement that it had noted with grave concern the president’s recent tweet, reported The News International.
The ministry’s statement said that as per Article 75 of the Constitution, when a bill is sent for assent, the president has two options: either give assent, or refer the matter to the parliament with specific observations. The Article 75 does not provide for any third option.
As God is my witness, I did not sign Official Secrets Amendment Bill 2023 & Pakistan Army Amendment Bill 2023 as I disagreed with these laws. I asked my staff to return the bills unsigned within stipulated time to make them ineffective. I confirmed from them many times that…— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) August 20, 2023
The statement said returning of bills without any observations or assent is not provided for in the Constitution.
“Such a course of action is against letter and spirit of the Constitution,” it stated.
It said that if the president had any reservations, he could have returned the bills with his observations like he did in the recent and distant past. “He could have also issued a press release to that effect,” the statement added.
The statement said, “It is a matter of concern that the president has chosen to discredit his own officials. The President should take responsibility for his own actions.”