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Muhammad Ali Bogra Formula (1953)
When Muhammad Ali Bogra became the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the main task ahead of him was to achieve an agreement on a workable constitution for the country. He worked hard on this project and within six months of assuming power, came out with a constitutional formula. He presented the formula to the Constituent Assembly on 7th October 1953 and it is known as the Bogra formula. The major features of the formula were:
- The federal legislature would comprise of two houses – the House of Unit and the House of People. The total strength of the House of Units would be 50, which was to be equally divided among five units namely, East Bengal, Punjab, NWFP, Frontier States, Sindh and Khairpur, Balochistan. The House of Units would be elected indirectly by the legislature of the units. The Bogra formula reduced the 9 units of West Pakistan into 4 units.
- The House of People was to have a total number of three hundred members, to be divided among the five units in this manner – East Bengal 165 members, Punjab 75, NWFP 13, Sindh 19, State of Khairpur 1, Balochistan 3, and Bahawalpur State 7.
- Both Houses were to have equal powers in all matters. There was a provision for a joint session of the two for the election of the Head of the State and the disposal of votes of confidence.
- In case of a difference of opinion between the two Houses, a joint session of the two Houses would be called and the matter would be decided by a majority vote, provided that the majority included thirty percent of the members from each zone.
- It maintained the principle of parity between East and West Pakistan in combined Houses, with 175 seats for each zone. So in total, both the wings were to have 175 seats each in the two Houses of the Legislative Assembly.
- In place of the Board of Ulama, the Supreme Court was given the power to decide if a law was in accordance with the basic teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah.
- The two houses of the Legislative Assembly formed the Electoral College for the Presidential elections and the President was to be elected for a term of 5 years
This proposal was received with great enthusiasm however, there were some points of criticism as well. The issue of equal powers to both Houses attracted a lot of criticism and some people maintained that since the lower house represented the people it should have more power. But generally, this proposal was accepted although the parliament was divided on the response to the formula. Another significant measure during this period that facilitated the problem of constitution-making was the settlement of the language issue. In 1954 the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan decided that Bengali and Urdu would be the national languages of Pakistan. This decision facilitated the constitution-making process.
Unlike the two reports of the Basic Principles Committee, the Bogra Formula was appreciated by different sections of the society. There was great enthusiasm amongst the masses as they considered it to be a plan that could bridge the gulf between the two wings of Pakistan and would act as a source of unity for the country. The proposal was discussed in the Constituent Assembly for 13 days, and a committee was set to draft the constitution on 14th November 1953. However, before the constitution could be finalized, the Assembly was dissolved by Ghulam Muhammad, the then Governor-General of Pakistan.