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Report of the Basic Principle Committee (1952)
The Basic Principles Committee was established on 12th March 1949 by Khawaja Nazimuddin on the instruction of Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan. This committee had 24 members and was headed by Khawaja Nazimuddin and Liaquat Khan was its vice president. This committee presented its first report in 1950 but was severely criticized, particularly in East Pakistan so it referred back to the Constituent Assembly. At that time sub-committees were also appointed for public suggestions and these sub-committees made their reports and presented them to the Basic Principles Committee which then presented the final and complete report to the Constituent Assembly in 1952. The report was revised before an agreement could be reached in the Constituent Assembly. The prominent features of the report were:
- The Objective Resolution was adopted as a preamble to the proposed constitution and its principles were to guide the state. Another important clause was that which laid down procedure to prevent any legislation to be made against the Quran and Sunnah.
- The Head of the State should be a Muslim and elected by the both Houses of the federal legislature for a term of 5 years.
- Seats were also allocated for communities in the House of People.
- Word unit was specified for all provinces, capital, and federations. The head of these units was to be selected for a term of 5 years.
- The formula gave weightage to the smaller units of West Pakistan. Federal legislature comprised of two Houses, House of Units consisted of 120 members. The East Bengal legislature was to elect 60 members according to the principle of proportional representation and the rest of the members were to be elected from the west by the same rule. The House of People had real authority and comprised of 400 members, 200 from West and 200 from East Pakistan.
- Chief Minister of each unit and minister were appointed by the Head of that unit and ministers for each unit would be chosen by the Chief Minister.
- When the federal legislature was not in session, the Head of the State could promulgate ordinances. The Head of the State could dissolve the House of People on the advice or counsel of the minister.
- Chief justice of the Supreme Court would be appointed by the Head of the State and other 6 judges would also be appointed by the Head of the State by the recommendations of the Chief Justice.
- Guarantees were also given to the civil servants of the federation and units against the dismissal, and reduction in the rank without an opportunity to showcases.
But the second and final report of the Basic Principles Committee was not received too well. The report was criticized because of these defects:
- The draft ignored the fact that East Bengal contained the majority of the population of the country and West Pakistan had a major part of the country’s territory.
- The draft made the lower house a weak replica of the House of People and reduced its utility. It also made no provision if both houses were unable to resolve the conflict in a joint session.
Like the first report, this was also criticized but this time criticism arose from Punjab which considered the federal formula to be defective. They demanded equal representation for various units in the lower house and equal power for both Houses. The Punjab members in the Basic Principles Committee and the Federal Cabinet disliked the formula because they felt East Pakistan would easily dominate West Pakistan which had been divided into nine units.
Religious leaders were also not satisfied with the Islamic character of the recommended constitution especially with regards to their demand for the declaration of Ahmadis as non-Muslims. In July 1952 during the All Pakistan Muslim Parties Convention held at Lahore a demand was put forward for the removal of Ahmadis from the key posts including Zafarullah Khan who was the Foreign Minister. Although Nazaimuddin sympathized with the demand he refused to incorporate them in the Basic Principles Committee report.