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P L D 2007 SC 133

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BANK OF PAKISTAN
V/S
FEDERATION OF PAKISTAN THROUGH SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF FINANCE AND ORS

Constitution of Pakistan (1973) Arts. 25, 184, 185(3) & 199-We are not in agreement with the contentions raised by them. Undoubtedly the companies have not fundamental rights to carry on business through its representatives who are the citizens of Pakistan but for the purpose of challenging the constitutionality of a statute, it would be a condition precedent to satisfy that challenge is by a citizen at the touchstone of Article 25 of the Constitution, which provides that all citizens are equal before the law and are entitled to protection of law, Expression “citizen” means a citizen of Pakistan as defined by law under Article 260 of the Constitution.

Admittedly a company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1913 or the Companies Ordinance, 1984 does not fall within the definition of a citizen. However, constitutionality of legislation which has impaired the rights of a company can be challenged through a shareholder who fulfils the following test laid down in the case of Godhra Electric Company v. State of Gujarat (AIR 1975 SC 32.)

It may be noted that from the above observation as well as the observation made in the other judgments cited hereinabove it become abundantly clear that an incorporated company does not fall within the definition of citizen. However, constitutionality of a statute can be examined for violation of Article 25 of the Constitution if the vires of the Statute has been questioned by a shareholder, director along with the company itself and that the company independently cannot question the constitutionality of a legislation at the touchstone of Article 25 of the Constitution.

Whereas in the instant case on the basis of the above discussion it has been held that incorporated bodies/respondent companies does not fall within the definition of a citizen for the purpose of Article 25 of the Constitution therefore, without joining to the share/account holders the impugned legislation cannot be examined within the parameters of Article 25 of the Constitution.

We are not in agreement with the contention raised by Mr. A. Karim Malik with reference to the observations made hereinabove examining the availability of the question of discrimination under Article 25 to an incorporated body but as far as the petition under Article 199 of the Constitution is concerned it would be maintainable on behalf of the respondent banking institutions if they fall within the definition of a person as it has been used in Article 199 of the Constitution. At this stage it would not be out of context to lay down a distinction between the expression of a person and a citizen. As far as the expression ‘person’ is concerned it also includes a juristic person i.e. Incorporated bodies and so far expression citizen is concerned as it has been employed in Article 25 of the Constitution “person” which means as defined under the law. [p. 171, 172, 176]DD, EE, FF,HH,II

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