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Article

Legislative Drafting in Plain Urdu Language for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

A Question of Complex Intricacies

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 3 2014
Keywords Urdu, Pakistan, multilingual jurisdictions, legislative drafting, plain language movement
Authors Mazhar Ilahi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The plain language movement (PLM) for the writing of laws calls for improving legislative clarity by drafting the laws in a clear, simple, and precise manner. However, the main purpose of this aspiration is to facilitate the ordinary legislative audience to understand the laws with the least effort. In this respect, turning the pages of recent history reveals that this movement for plain language statutes has mostly been debated and analysed in the context of English as a language of the legislative text. However, in some parts of the multilingual world like India and Pakistan, English is not understood by the ordinary population at a very large scale but is still used as a language of the legislative text. This disparity owes its genesis to different country-specific ethnolingual and political issues. In this context but without going into the details of these ethnolingual and political elements, this article aims to analyse the prospects of plain Urdu legislative language in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan by by analyzing (1) the possibility of producing a plain language version of the legislative text in Urdu and (2) the potential benefit that the ordinary people of Pakistan can get from such plain statutes in terms of the themes of the PLM. In answering these questions, the author concludes that neither (at present) is it possible to produce plain Urdu versions of the statute book in Pakistan nor is the population of Pakistan likely to avail any current advantage from the plain Urdu statutes and further that, for now, it is more appropriate to continue with the colonial heritage of English as the language of the legislative text.


Mazhar Ilahi
The author is Solicitor in England and Wales and currently an Associate Research Fellow as well as Director of the Legislative Drafting Clinic at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Previously, he has worked as a Civil Judge/Judicial Magistrate and practised as Advocate of High Courts in Pakistan. He is also a country (Pakistan) representative of ‘Clarity’, an international association promoting plain legal language.
Article

Linguistic Disharmony, National Language Authority and Legislative Drafting in Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 4 2013
Keywords National Language Authority, National Language of Pakistan, Legislation in Urdu, Plain Language Movement, Urdu Language
Authors Mazhar Ilahi
AbstractAuthor's information

    It is quite interesting to note that first, the first language of most of the population of Pakistan remains different in different geographical regions. Secondly, Urdu, which is the second language of most of the population of Pakistan though declared to be the sole constitutional and official language, is not so accepted by all the communities resident in Pakistan. As a result, and thirdly, the laws of Pakistan are drafted in a non-native language, English, which is mostly the third language of a small fraction of the country’s population . This situation runs counter to the theme of the Plain Language Movement for writing of laws (PLM), which strives to make the laws understandable for its subjects. The problem, in reality, owes its genesis to different ethno-lingual and political issues. However, without going into much detail of these ethno-lingual and political elements, this article aims to analyse the question of the need for linguistic harmony, the main causes of lack of focus upon the same and the role of the National Language Authority (NLA) in the context. In addressing these issues the author concludes that lack of political will to handle the natural ensuing issues of the multilingual features of the Pakistani society and the (English) linguistic hegemony of the ruling elites (civil and military bureaucracy) are the two main causes of the failure of the NLA to administer Urdu as a sole national/official/legislative language of Pakistan.


Mazhar Ilahi
The author is a Solicitor qualified in England & Wales currently working as an Associate Research Fellow and Director of the Legislative Drafting Clinic at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London. Previously, he has worked as a Civil Judge/Judicial Magistrate and is practicing as Advocate of High Courts in Pakistan. He is also country (Pakistan) representative of ‘CLARITY’, International Association Promoting Plain Legal Language. The author acknowledges the research facilitation provided by the IALS in writing this article.
Article

Rule of Ordinance in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

A Question of Arbitrary Legislative Endowment

Journal European Journal of Law Reform, Issue 2-3 2012
Keywords legislative authority of government in Pakistan, ordinance in English law, ordinance in British India, ordinance in Pakistan, emergency legislation by ordinance in Pakistan
Authors Mazhar Ilahi
AbstractAuthor's information

    The Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan empowers the federal and provincial Governments via the President and the Governors of the respective provinces to enact the primary legislation independent of the representative legislatures in the form of Ordinances. However, the resulting enactment remains in force for a few months, and notionally, must be promulgated only under the circumstances of urgent necessity and when the national legislature is not in session. Yet, owing to the vagueness of the text of the relevant Constitutional provisions, the scope of this legislative authority has much potential for abuse, and it has so been alleged too, in numerous Constitutional petitions filed from time to time in the superior courts of Pakistan seeking the judicial review of the promulgating action on the ground of malafide etc. But the judicature in Pakistan has largely abstained from exercising its authority to keep itself from being stigmatized from the usual aftermath of the judicial pronouncement on questions of political fiat. Resultantly, the natural democratic right of the illiterate and ignorant people of Pakistan to be governed by laws made by the designated representative legislature is persistently being jeopardized. In this view of the matter, on the basis of an empirical study of the Ordinance and the emergency legislation in the United Kingdom, and the ensuing principles of good governance and democratic norms, this article argues that the Constitutional authority of the Governments in Pakistan to enact primary legislation by way of promulgating Ordinances is an arbitrary legislative endowment, and entails a review by a truly representative, legitimate and competent Constituent Assembly.


Mazhar Ilahi
The author (mazharilahi@hotmail.com) is currently a PhD candidate at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK. Previously he has served in the judicial service of Pakistan as civil judge-cum-judicial magistrate and has also practiced as Advocate of High Courts in Pakistan.
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