Part Four Powers
Chapter 0 General ProvisionArticle 32: System of Government
- The system of government shall be based on the principle of separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers, functioning in co-operation with each other in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution. None of the three powers may relinquish all or part of its competence prescribed in this Constitution. However, legislative authorization, limited for a certain period and in respect of a specified matter or matters, may be made, and shall be practised in accordance with the law of authorization and the condition thereof.
- Legislative power shall be vested in the Amir and the National Assembly in accordance with the Constitution; and the Executive power shall be vested in the Amir, the Cabinet and the Ministers. Judicial decrees shall be passed in the name of the Amir, all in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
Chapter I The AmirArticle 33
- The Amir is the Head of the State, his person shall be immune and inviolable, and he shall exercise his powers through his Ministers who shall collectively report to him on the general policy of the Government, and each Minister shall be responsible for the affairs of his Ministry.
- The Amir shall, after the traditional consultations, appoint the Prime Minister or relieve him of office by an Amiri decree. The Amir shall also appoint Ministers or relieve them of office by an Amiri decree, upon the recommendations of the Prime Minister.
- Ministers shall not be appointed from amongst the members of the National Assembly in the first legislative term, but they may be appointed from amongst the members of the National Assembly or others with effect from the second legislative term. Ministers appointed from amongst outsiders shall become ex officio members of the National Assembly. The total number of ministers shall not exceed 14.
- The Cabinet shall be reconstituted in the manner set out in this article at the beginning of every legislative term of the National Assembly.
- The Amir shall be the Supreme Commander of the Defence Force.
- The Amir shall confer Orders of Honour in accordance with the law.
- Currency shall be minted in the name of the Amir in accordance with the law.
- The Amir shall protect the legality of the government and the supremacy of law, and shall take the following oath at a special sitting of the National Assembly: "I swear by Almighty God to respect the Constitution and the laws of the State, to defend the liberties, interests and properties of the people, and to safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of the country".
- The Amir shall have an annual privy purse to be determined by a special Amiri decree. The privy purse may not be revised throughout the reign of the Amir, and shall thereafter be fixed by the law.
- In the event of his absence outside the country and the inability of the Heir Apparent to act as deputy for him, the Amir shall appoint by an Amiri Order a deputy who shall exercise his powers during his absence. The said Amiri Order may include a specified arrangement for the exercise of powers on behalf of the Amir, or a limitation on their scope.
- The provisions of item (b) of Article 86 of this Constitution shall apply to the Amir's deputy. If the Amir's deputy is a Minister or a member of the National Assembly he shall not take part in the functions of his Ministry or the National Assembly during the period he is acting as deputy for the Amir.
- Before assuming his powers, the Amir's deputy shall take the oath set forth in the previous article, with the following phrase added thereto: "and be loyal to the Amir". The oath shall be taken in the National Assembly if it is in session, otherwise it shall be taken before the Amir. The oath by the Heir Apparent shall be taken only once even if he acts as a deputy for the Amir more than once.
- The Amir shall have the right to initiate laws, and he alone shall ratify and promulgate the laws.
- A bill shall be considered to have been ratified and shall be promulgated by the Amir if a period of thirty days from the date of its submission by the National Assembly to the Amir has expired without the Amir returning it to the National Assembly for re-consideration.
- If, within the period prescribed in the preceding clause the Amir returns the bill, by a decree stating the grounds therefor, to the National Assembly for re- consideration, then it shall be decided whether such re-consideration should take place during the same or the next session.
- If the Assembly re-confirms the bill by a majority vote of its members, the Amir shall ratify and promulgate the bill within one month from the date of the re- confirmation.
- Offensive war is unlawful. The declaration of defensive war shall be made by an Amiri decree which shall be referred to the National Assembly immediately after the declaration has been made, for decision.
- Martial law shall be proclaimed only by law, unless otherwise dictated by urgent necessity to be by a decree giving the justification therefor, provided that the matter shall be referred to the National Assembly within two weeks for decision. In all cases the period of martial law shall not exceed three months, but this period may be renewed in whole or in part once or more, provided that approval by a majority vote of the members constituting the National Assembly has been obtained. If the proclamation or renewal of martial law takes place during the period in which the National Assembly is dissolved, the matter shall be referred to the new Assembly at its first meeting.
The Amir shall conclude treaties by decree and shall transmit them immediately to the National Assembly with the appropriate statement. A treaty shall have the force of law after it has been signed, ratified and published in the Official Gazette. However, treaties of peace and alliance; treaties concerning the territory of the State, its natural resources or sovereign rights or public or private rights of citizens; treaties of commerce, navigation and residence; and treaties which entail additional expenditure not provided for in the budget of the State, or which involve amendment to the laws of Bahrain, shall come into effect only when made by a law. In no case may treaties include secret provisions contradicting those declared.Article 38
Should necessity arise for urgent measures to be taken while the National Assembly is not in session or is dissolved, the Amir may issue decrees in respect thereof which shall have the force of law, provided that they shall not be contrary to the Constitution or the appropriations included in the budget law. Such decrees shall be referred to the National Assembly within fifteen days following their issue if the Assembly is in session. If it is dissolved or its legislative term has expired such decrees shall be referred to the next Assembly at its first meeting. If they are not thus referred they shall retroactively cease to have the force of a law without the necessity of any decision to that effect. If they are referred and the Assembly does not confirm them, they shall also retroactively cease to have the force of law, unless the Assembly approves their validity for the preceding period or settles in some other way the effects arising therefrom.Article 39
- The Amir shall by decrees, issue the regulations necessary for the execution of laws without amending or suspending such laws or making any exemption from their execution. A law may describe a less formal instrument than a decree for the issue of the regulations necessary for its execution.
- The Amir shall, by decrees, issue regulations for public order and health, and regulations necessary for the organization of public services and administration, not conflicting with any law.
The Amir shall appoint and remove civil and military officials and diplomatic representatives to foreign countries and international organizations in accordance with the law and in the manner prescribed therein. He shall also accept credentials of the representatives of foreign countries and organizations.Article 41
The Amir may, by decree grant a pardon or commute a sentence. However, amnesty shall not be granted except by a law and then only in respect of offences committed prior to the proposal of the amnesty.
Chapter II Legislative PowerArticle 42
No law may be promulgated unless it has been passed by the National Assembly and ratified by the Amir.Article 43
The National Assembly shall be composed of:
- Thirty members elected directly by universal suffrage and secret ballot, in accordance with the provisions of the electoral law. The number of these members shall be increased to forty with effect from the elections for the second legislative term. Electoral constituencies shall be determined by the law.
- The Ministers by virtue of their portfolios.
A member of the National Assembly must:
- have been registered in one of the electoral rolls, not be suspended from exercising his right to vote, and be a Bahraini citizen by origin.
- be not less than thirty-full calendar years of age on the day of election.
- be able to read and write Arabic well.
The term of the National Assembly shall be four calendar years commencing from the date of its first meeting. Elections for the new Assembly shall take place within two months preceding the expiry of the said term, due regard being given to the provisions of Article 65 of this Constitution. Members whose term of office expires may be re-elected. The term of the National Assembly may not be extended except for necessity in time of war and by a law passed by two-third majority of the members constituting the Assembly.Article 46
If, for any reason, a seat in the National Assembly becomes vacant before the end of the term, the vacancy shall be filled by election within two months from the date on which the Assembly declares the vacancy. The term of the new member shall last until the end of that of his predecessor. If the vacancy occurs within six months immediately prior to the expiry of the legislative term of the Assembly no successor shall be elected.Article 47
The National Assembly shall have an annual session of not less than eight months. The said session may not be prorogued before the budget has been approved.Article 48
The Assembly shall start its ordinary session during the month of October of every year upon a convocation by the Amir. If the decree of convocation is not issued before the first of the said month, the time for the meeting shall be deemed 9 a.m. on the third Saturday of that month. If such a day happens to be an official holiday, the Assembly shall meet in the morning of the first day following the holiday.Article 49
Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding two Articles, the Amir shall summon the National Assembly to hold its first meeting within two weeks from the end of the general election. If the decree of convocation is not issued within the said period, the Assembly shall be deemed to have been convoked for the morning of the day immediately following these two weeks, due regard being given to the provision of the second paragraph of the preceding Article. If the date of the meeting of the Assembly falls after the annual date mentioned in Article 48 of the Constitution, the duration of the session specified in Article 47 herein shall be reduced by the difference between the said two dates.Article 50
The National Assembly shall, by decree, be called to an extraordinary session if the Amir deems it necessary, or upon the request of the majority of the members of the Assembly. In an extraordinary session, the Assembly may not consider matters other than those for which it has been convened except with the consent of the Government.Article 51
The Amir shall announce the prorogation or ordinary and extraordinary sessions, by a decree.Article 52
Every meeting held by the National Assembly at a time or place other than that assigned for its meeting shall be invalid, and resolutions passed thereat shall be null and void.Article 53
Before assuming their duties in the Assembly or its committees, members of the National Assembly, including the Ministers, shall take the following oath in a public sitting: "I swear by Almighty God to be faithful to the Country and to the Amir, to respect the Constitution and the laws of the State, to defend the liberties, interests and properties of the people and to discharge my duties honestly and truthfully".Article 54
The National Assembly shall elect at its first sitting and for the duration of its term a speaker, Deputy Speaker and a Secretary from amongst its members. If any office becomes vacant the Assembly shall elect a successor for the remainder of its term. In all cases election shall be by an absolute majority vote of the members present. If this majority vote is not attained in the first ballot, another election shall be held between the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes. If more than one candidate receives an equal number of votes in the second place, all such candidates shall participate in the second ballot. In this case the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes shall be elected. If there is a tie in this last ballot, the choice shall be by lot. The Prime Minister shall preside over the first sitting until the Speaker has been elected.Article 55
The Assembly shall form, within the first week of its annual session, the committees necessary for its functions. These committees may discharge their duties during the recess of the Assembly with a view to submitting their recommendations to it when it meets.Article 56
Sittings of the National Assembly shall be public. However, they may be held in camera upon the request of the Government, the Speaker of the Assembly or ten of its members. The debate on such request shall be held in camera.Article 57
The Supreme Civil Court of Appeal shall be the competent authority to deal with election disputes of the National Assembly, but this competence may be transferred to any higher court which may be set up by law.Article 58
The National Assembly shall be the competent authority to accept resignation of its members, and no resignation shall be considered final except from the time the Assembly has decided to accept it.Article 59
For a meeting of the National Assembly to be valid, more than half of its members must be present. Resolutions shall be passed by an absolute majority of the members present, except in cases where a special majority is required. When the votes are equally divided, the motion shall be deemed rejected.Article 60
Immediately upon its formation, every Cabinet shall present its programme to the National Assembly, and the Assembly may make comments with regard to such a programme.Article 61
The Amir shall open the annual session of the National Assembly whereupon he shall deliver an Amiri Speech reviewing the state of affairs of the country and the most important public matters which happened during the preceding year, and outlining the projects and reforms the Government plans to undertake during the coming year. The Amir may depute the Prime Minister to open the Assembly or to deliver the Amiri Speech.Article 62
The National Assembly shall choose, from amongst its members, a committee to draft the reply to the Amiri Speech which will embody the comments and wishes of the Assembly. After the reply has been approved by the Assembly, it shall be submitted to the Amir.Article 63
- A member of the National Assembly represents the entire people. He shall safeguard the public interest and shall not be subject to any authority in the discharge of his duties in the Assembly or in its committees.
- A member of the National Assembly shall be free to express any views or opinions in the Assembly or in its committees, and under no circumstances shall he be held liable in respect thereof.
- Except in cases of flagrante delicto, no measures of detention, investigation, search, arrest, imprisonment or any other penal measure may be taken against a member while the Assembly is in session without the authorization of the Assembly. If the National Assembly is not in session, authorization shall be obtained from the Speaker of the Assembly. If the Assembly does not give a decision regarding a request for authorization within one month from the date of its receipt, permission shall be deemed to have been granted. The Assembly shall be notified of any measure that may be taken during its session in accordance with the foregoing paragraph. The Assembly shall always, at its first meeting, be notified of any measure taken against any of its members during its annual recess.
The Amir may, by a decree, adjourn the meeting of the National Assembly for a period not exceeding one month. Adjournment may be repeated during the same session with the consent of the Assembly, and then once only. The period of adjournment shall not be counted in computing the duration of the session provided for in Article 47 of this Constitution.Article 65
The Amir may dissolve the National Assembly by a decree in which the reasons for dissolution shall be indicated. However, dissolution of the Assembly may not be repeated for the same reason. In the event of dissolution, elections for the new Assembly shall be held within a period not exceeding two months from the date of dissolution. If the elections are not held within the said period, the dissolved Assembly shall be restored to its full constitutional authority and shall meet immediately as if the dissolution had not taken place. The Assembly shall then continue functioning until a new Assembly is elected.Article 66
Every member of the National Assembly may put to the Prime Minister and to Ministers, questions with a view to clarifying matters falling within their competence. The questioner alone shall have the right to comment once on the answer, and if the Minister adds something new then the right of the member shall be renewed.Article 67
Every member of the National Assembly may address to the Prime Minister and to Ministers interpellations with regard to matters falling within their competence. The debate on such interpellations shall not take place until at least eight days have elapsed after its presentation, unless the Minister concerned agrees to hold the debate earlier. An interpellation may lead to the vote of confidence being put to the Assembly in accordance with the provisions of Articles (68) and (69) of this Constitution.Article 68
- Every Minister shall report to the National Assembly on the affairs of his Ministry.
- The question of confidence in a Minister may not be raised except upon his request or upon demand signed by ten members following a debate on an interpellation addressed to him. The Assembly may not make its decision upon such a request before the lapse of seven days from the presentation thereof.
- If the Assembly passes a vote of no confidence against a Minister he shall be considered to have resigned his office as from the date of the vote of no confidence and shall submit his formal resignation immediately. Withdrawal of confidence from a Minister shall be by a majority vote of the members constituting the National Assembly excluding Ministers. In all cases Ministers shall not participate in the vote of confidence.
- The question of confidence in the Prime Minister shall not be raised before the National Assembly, unless out of necessity, he holds a portfolio with the premierships, and then he may be questioned about the affairs of such portfolio like any other minister.
- If two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly decide, in the manner specified in article (68) of this Constitution, that they cannot co- operate with the Prime Minister, the matter shall be submitted to the Amir for settlement. The Amir may either relieve the Prime Minister of office and appoint a new Cabinet or dissolve the National Assembly. If the Assembly is dissolved and the office of the said Prime Minister is renewed but the new Assembly decide by a majority vote of the members constituting the National Assembly that it cannot co-operate with the said Prime Minister, he shall be considered to have resigned his office as from the date of the decision of the Assembly in this respect and a new Cabinet shall be formed.
If, for any reason, the Prime Minister vacates his office he shall continue to discharge the urgent business thereof until his successor is appointed.Article 71
A member of the National Assembly shall have the right to initiate bills. A bill initiated by a member and rejected by the Assembly may not be re-introduced during the same session except with the approval of the Government.Article 72
Upon a request signed by at least five members, any subject of general interest may be put to the National Assembly for discussion with a view to securing clarification of the Government's policy and to exchange views thereon. All other members shall also have the right to participate in the discussion.Article 73
The National Assembly shall express its wishes to the Government regarding public matters. If the Government cannot comply with these wishes, it shall state to the Assembly the reasons therefor. The Assembly may comment once on the Government's statement.Article 74
The National Assembly shall at all times have the right to set up committees of enquiry or to depute one or more of its members to investigate any matter within the assembly's competence as prescribed in the Constitution. Ministers and all Government officials must produce testimonials, documents and statements requested from them.Article 75
The Assembly shall set up, among its annual standing committees, a special committee to deal with petitions and complaints submitted to the Assembly by citizens. The committee shall seek explanation thereon from the competent authorities and shall inform the person concerned of the result. A member of the National Assembly shall not interfere with the work of either the Judicial or the Executive Power.Article 76
The Prime Minister and Ministers shall be given the floor whenever they ask for it. They may call for assistance upon any senior officials or depute them to speak on their behalf. The Assembly may ask for a Minister to be present whenever a matter relating to his Minister is under discussion. The Cabinet shall be represented in the sittings of the Assembly by the Prime Minister and by some Ministers.Article 77
- The law shall prescribe the procedure of the National Assembly and its committees and the rules pertaining to discussion, voting, questions, interpellation and all other functions prescribed in the Constitution. The law shall also prescribe the sanctions to be imposed on any member who violates order or absents himself from the meetings of the Assembly or the committees without good cause or legitimate reason.
- The National Assembly may make necessary regulations complementary to the law referred to in the preceding clause.
The maintenance of order in the National Assembly shall be the responsibility of its Speaker. The Assembly shall have a special guard under the authority of the Speaker of the Assembly. No other armed force may enter the Assembly or be stationed close to its gate unless so required by the Speaker.Article 79
Remuneration of the members of the National Assembly shall be fixed by a law. In the event of a revision of the said remuneration, such revision shall not take effect until the next legislative term.Article 80
Membership of the National Assembly shall be incompatible with public office except in the case of Ministers. In such cases, the right to the remuneration for membership and the right to the salary of the portfolio shall not be combined. The law shall specify other cases of incompatibility.Article 81
During his term, a member of the National Assembly shall not be appointed to the board of directors of a company, nor shall he participate in concessions granted by the Government for by public bodies, except in those cases prescribed by the law. Further, during the said term he shall not buy or rent any property of the State nor shall he let, sell or barter any of his property to the State, except by public auction or tender, or in compliance with the system of compulsory acquisition.Article 82
During their term, members of the National Assembly with the exception of Ministers may not be awarded decorations.
Chapter III Executive Power
Section I The CabinetArticle 83
- A Minister shall satisfy the qualifications laid down in Article 44 of this Constitution. All Provisions regarding Ministers shall apply to the Prime Minister unless otherwise stated.
- Remuneration of the Prime Minister and Ministers shall be determined by law.
Before assuming office, the Prime Minister and Ministers shall take before the Amir the oath specified in Article 53 of this Constitution.Article 85
- The Cabinet shall have control over the departments of the State. It shall formulate the general policy of the Government, pursue its execution and supervise the functioning of the Government departments.
- The Amir shall preside over the meetings of the Cabinet which he attends.
- The Prime Minister shall supervise the functions and procedures of the Cabinet. He shall be responsible for the implementation of the Cabinet's decisions and the co-ordination among the various ministries, and to ensure that their functions are integrated.
- The relinquishment of the position of the Prime Minister for any reason shall involve the relinquishment of all ministerial positions by the Ministers.
- Deliberations of the Cabinet shall be secret. Resolutions shall be passed only when the majority of its members are present and with the approval of the majority of those present. In case of an equal division of votes, the side on which the Prime Minister has voted shall prevail. Unless they resign, the minority shall abide by the opinion of the majority. Resolutions of the Cabinet shall be submitted to the Amir for ratification in cases where the issue of a decree is required.
- Every Minister shall supervise the affairs of his Ministry and shall execute therein the general policy of the Government. He shall also formulate directives for the Ministry and supervise their execution.
- While in office, a Minister shall not hold any other public office or practice, even indirectly, any extra governmental profession or undertake any industrial, commercial or financial business. He shall not participate in any concession granted by the Government or by public bodies or emulate the ministerial post with membership of the board of directors of any company, except as a representative of the Government and without remuneration. Further, during the same period, a Minister shall not buy or take on hire any property of the State even by public auction, nor shall he let, sell or barter any of his property to the State.
- The law shall regulate general and municipal self-government bodies in such a way as to ensure their independence under the direction and supervision of the State.
- The State shall direct bodies of public interest in such a way that they conform to the general policy of the State and the benefit of the citizens.
Section II Financial AffairsArticle 88
- No general tax may be established, amended or abolished except by law. No-one may be exempted, wholly or partially, from the payment of such taxes except in the cases specified by the law. No-one may be required to pay any other tax, fee or imposition except within the limits of the law.
- The law shall prescribe rules for the collection of taxes, fees and other forms of public funds and the procedure for their expenditure.
- The law shall lay down rules for the protection of State properties, their administration, the conditions of their disposal, and the limits within which any of these properties may be relinquished.
- Public loans shall be contracted by law. The State may grant or guarantee a loan by a law, or within the limits of the funds appropriated for this purpose in the budget.
- Local bodies such as municipalities or public bodies may grant, borrow or guarantee loans in accordance with their own regulations.
- The fiscal year shall be fixed by a law.
- The Government shall draw up the annual budget, comprising the revenue and expenditure of the State, and submit it to the National Assembly for examination and approval, at least two months before the end of each current fiscal year.
- The budget shall be discussed in the National Assembly part by part. None of the public revenues may be allocated for a specific purpose except by a law.
- The budget shall be issued by a law.
- If the budget law has not been promulgated before the beginning of the fiscal year, the preceding budget shall be applied until the new one is issued, and revenues shall be collected and disbursements made in accordance with the law in force at the end of the preceding year. However, if the National Assembly has approved one or more parts of the new budget, they shall be put into effect.
- In no case shall the maximum estimates of expenditure, included in the budget law or the laws amending it, be exceeded.
Any expenditure not included in the budget, or in excess of the budget appropriations, as well as the transfer of any funds from one part of the budget to another, shall be effected by a law.Article 92
- Funds for more than one fiscal year may be appropriated by a law if the nature of the expenditure so requires. In this case, each annual successive budget shall include the funds allocated for that year in the way established by the said law.
- An extraordinary budget valid for more than one fiscal year may be drawn up separately for the expenditure referred to in the preceding item.
The budget law may not include any provision for establishing a new tax, increasing an existing law, or evading the issue of a law on a matter in respect of which this Constitution provides that its regulation shall be by a law.Article 94
The final account of the financial affairs of the State for the preceding year shall be submitted to the National Assembly within the five months following the end of the fiscal year. The ratification of the final account shall be by a decision of the National Assembly, together with its comments.Article 95
The law shall prescribe the provisions of both the independent and the supplementary general budgets and the final accounts thereof to which the provisions regarding the budget of the State and the final account thereof shall be applied. The law shall also prescribe the provisions of the budget and the final accounts thereof of the municipalities and the public bodies.Article 96
Together with the draft annual budget, the Government shall submit to the National Assembly a statement on the financial and economic position of the State and arrangements made to implement the appropriation of the budget in effect and the effect thereof on the new draft budget.Article 97
A financial control and audit commission shall be established by a law, which shall ensure its independence. The commission shall be attached to the National Assembly and shall assist the Government and the National Assembly in controlling the collection of the State revenues and the disbursement of its expenditures within the limits of the budget. The commission shall submit to both the Government and the National Assembly an annual report on its activities and its observations.Article 98
- No concession for exploitation of either a natural resource or a public service may be granted except by a law and for a limited period. In this respect the preparatory measures shall facilitate the operations of prospecting and exploration and ensure publicity and competition.
- No monopoly shall be granted except by a law for a limited period.
The law shall regulate currency and banking and determine standards, weights and measures.Article 100
The law shall regulate salaries, pensions, compensation, subsidies and gratuities which are a charge on the State treasury.
Chapter IV Judicial PowerArticle 101
- The honour of the judiciary and the integrity and impartiality of judges are the bases of rule and a guarantee of rights and liberties.
- In the administration of justice judges shall not be subject to any authority. No interference whatsoever shall be allowed in the conduct of justice. The law shall guarantee the independence of the judiciary and shall state the guarantees and provisions relating to the judges.
- The law shall specify the rules for public prosecution, rendering of legal opinions, drafting of legislation and representation of the State before the courts and before those who are engaged in these matters.
- The law shall regulate the legal profession.
- The law shall regulate the various kinds and degrees of courts and specify their functions and jurisdictions.
- The jurisdiction of courts martial shall be restricted to military crimes committed by members of the armed and security forces and shall not extend to others except during the time of martial law and within the limits determined by law.
- Sittings of the courts shall be public save in exceptional cases prescribed by the law.
- A Supreme Council of the judiciary shall be formed by a law which shall supervise the functions of the Courts and the offices relating thereto.
- The law shall specify the jurisdiction of the said Council over the functional affairs of both the judiciary and the public prosecution.
The law shall specify the judicial body competent to decide upon disputes relating to the constitutionality of laws and regulations and shall determine its jurisdiction and procedure. The law shall ensure the right of both the Government and interested parties to challenge the constitutionality of laws and regulations before the said body. If the said body decides that a law or a regulation is unconstitutional it shall be considered null and void.