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Constitutional Amendments

Amendments in constitution are a necessity to bring it into line with needs of the changing times. These amendments and adaptations keep the sacred instrument afresh and up-to-date. Similarly, the constitution of 1973 that came into force on 14th August 1973 was amended seven times during Bhutto regime. However, most of these amendments were not made out of necessity but were motivated by some ulterior motives.


Bhutto was more like an autocrat and wanted concentration of all powers in his own hands. His desire of establishing a presidential system could not be fulfilled because of strong opposition. But the way he got the constitution amended shows his lack of respect for the democratic credentials.


The first two amendments were made in1974. The very first was primarily aimed at recognizing Bangladesh and establishing diplomatic ties with her. The second declared Ahmadis non-Muslims and it also defined the term Muslim.


In 1975, two more changes were introduced. The Third amendment to the constitution limited the rights of detainees in case of preventive detentions and emergency could be introduced in the country for indefinite period. The fourth curtailed the powers and jurisdiction of the courts. Now in case of preventive detainment, the courts could not provide relief to detainees who were mostly the political opponents of the regime. Government was given the power to arrest anyone without giving any reason.


Fifth Amendment of 1976 curtailed the discretionary powers of judiciary and the term for the judges of Supreme Court was fixed for five while that of High Courts for four years. One envisaged an extension in the term of chief justice of the Supreme Court and the high courts beyond the age of retirement. This was actually aimed at favoring the Judges who were in the good books of the Government.


Sixth Amendment entitled the Government Advisers, Special Assistants ect. to participate in the elections immediately after their retirement. The Seventh Amendment provided an option of Referendum to ask for the direct opinion of the masses on important issues.


So, a study of these constitutional amendments makes the readers acquaints with the fact that Bhutto was actually trying to establish his personal rule in the country. The rights guaranteed to the detainees in case preventive detention were taken back which meant that his political opponents were left with no options to seek a constitutional remedy. Similarly, extension in the term of office even after the age of retirement was basically in pursuit of the fact that he wanted to continue with the favorites in judiciary as well rendering the judicial organ completely subservient to him and thus becoming an instrument in his hands.

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