Federation of Pakistan v. Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan

Federation of Pakistan v. Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan (1955) is a court case of the Dominion of Pakistan. The Federal Court of Pakistan (now the Supreme Court of Pakistan) ruled in favor of the Governor General of Pakistan's dismissal of the 1st Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. The dismissal was legally challenged by Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, the president of the assembly. Except one dissenting opinion, the majority of the court supported the dismissal on grounds of the doctrine of necessity. The verdict was considered a blow to democratic norms, which had ramifications in modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, and led to the dismissal being described as a constitutional coup.

Federation of Pakistan v. Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan
CourtFederal Court of Pakistan
Court membership
Judge(s) sittingMuhammad Munir
Mohammad Sharif
S. A. Rehman
A.S.M. Akram
Alvin Robert Cornelius


Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan challenged the Governor General's actions

In 1954, Governor General Ghulam Muhammad dissolved the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Earlier, he dismissed Prime Minister Khawaja Nazimuddin who enjoyed the confidence of the constituent assembly. Maulvi Tamizuddin Khan, the President of the Constituent Assembly and a representative from East Bengal, challenged the Governor General's actions in the Sindh High Court, where the dissolution was ruled as ultra vires. The federal government appealed in the country's apex Federal Court.[1]


In 1955, the Federal Court led by Chief Justice Muhammad Munir ruled in support of the Governor General. The court suspended the decision of the High Court and held the Governor General, and not the Constituent Assembly, to be the sovereign authority. The court opined that royal assent can only be given by the Governor General as Pakistan was still a dominion and hence not a fully independent country. It gave the decision based on technical grounds that the section of Government of India Act of 1935 in question was not applied to this case because the governor general had not assent to it.


A lone dissenting opinion was given by Justice Alvin Robert Cornelius who argued Pakistan was indeed an independent country within the Commonwealth.[2][3]


The verdict dealt a blow to the notion of parliamentary supremacy in Pakistan. The irony was that Pakistan was an independent dominion created by the Indian Independence Act 1947. The British parliament enjoyed parliamentary supremacy in its own realm. But the Federal Court's verdict stripped Pakistan's parliamentary supremacy, even though Pakistan itself was an independent realm of the British monarchy. The verdict paved way for the future judiciary to support unconstitutional and undemocratic actions, such as military coups. The doctrine of necessity was applied by successive Pakistani and Bangladeshi courts to validate the actions of martial law authorities.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ http://www.pja.gov.pk/system/files/CONSTITUTIONAL_HISTORY.pdf
  2. ^ Hamid Khan (2005). Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan. Oxford University Press. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-19-597975-6.
  3. ^ http://lawmatespak.weebly.com/maulvi-tamizuddin-khan-case.html