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16 private bills introduced in National Assembly

16 private bills introduced in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: In a contrasting picture to Tuesday’s proceeding when the National Assembly rushed into approving three crucial bills regarding services chiefs’ tenure within 20 minutes, the lower house on Wednesday witnessed the introduction of 16 private members’ bill during its four-hour sitting.

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) member Syed Fakhar Imam, who served as the speaker for 14 months during 1985-86, presided over the entire sitting in the absence of both the speaker and the deputy speaker and kept on receiving compliments from members from both the government and the opposition for running the house strictly in accordance with rules and allowing them to take up maximum number of items on the 238-point agenda.

At one point, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali pointed out lack of quorum as protest for not getting before time the copies of the bills being introduced, but he withdrew his point of order on the request of Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan to allow members to introduce their bills.

Despite expressing reservations over the drafts of almost all the bills, the minister kept on asking the chair to refer the bills to the committees concerned for further discussion.

PTI’s Fakhar Imam chairs the sitting in absence of speaker, deputy

A ruling party MNA Amjid Ali Khan introduced the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill 2020, seeking action against lawyers found involved in any act of violence.

He said that lawyers, if found guilty, should not be allowed to practice.

The bill, which was introduced against the backdrop of a recent incident of violent attack by lawyers on a hospital in Lahore, was opposed by the parliamentary affairs minister and some opposition members, through a voice vote. The minister was of the view that the mover’s bill seemed to be discriminatory as it was related to just one professional community.

Moreover, he said, laws suggesting action against those indulging in violence were already available.

“I don’t know why he wants to bring this legislation only about one profession,” the minister wondered, saying the government opposed the proposed bill.

Mr Imam did not allow Mr Khan to introduce the bill on the basis of a voice vote. The mover, however, challenged the ruling, forcing him to order a headcount.

Mr Khan finally succeeded in getting the verdict of the house in his favour with 85-69 vote and was allowed to move the bill which was then referred to the committee.

Another important bill seeking an increase in women’s representation in parliament and political parties was moved by Noreen Farooq Khan. Through the bill seeking amendment to the Elections Act 2017, the MNA has suggested that political parties should be bound to allocate 25 per cent tickets, instead of the present 5pc, in elections. She has also suggested that 50pc of party offices must be given to women.

The parliamentary affairs minister said that he was not against the increase in the women’s representation, but actions suggested in the bill seemed to be impracticable.

He said it would be difficult for the parties to give 50pc offices to women, besides giving 25pc tickets to women when 60 seats had already been reserved for women.

The minister, however, did not oppose the bill and asked the chair to refer it to the committee.

PML-N’s minority MNA Kesoo Mal Kheeal Das introduced a constitution amendment bill seeking status of national language for regional languages of the country through an amendment to Article 251 of the Constitution.

Again, the parliamentary affairs minister expressed his reservations over the draft, saying that Urdu had already been declared as the national language by the Quaid-i-Azam and there were a number of court rulings in this regard.

He, however, asked the chair to let the bill go to the committee for further discussion.

It may be recalled that such bills had been rejected in the past by the committees and the National Assembly.

At the outset of the sitting, Mr Imam had to suspend the proceedings for 15 minutes during the question hour when Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA Agha Rafiul-lah pointed towards the empty front benches, saying that no minister was present to respond to their questions.

Later, when the house resumed its proceedings, Mr Rafiullah regretted that on Tuesday there was a full house and even the prime minister was sitting in the house when they were doing legislations for “others”. And today, he said, when they were talking about problems of the masses, no one was present in the house.

Other bills introduced in the assembly were the Right to Free and Compulsory Education (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Constitution (Amend­ment) Bill, 2020 (Article 31); the Minorities Educational Seats Bill, 2020; the Institute of Art and Culture (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Article 251); the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 510); the Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amend­ment) Bill, 2020; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Amendment to Third Schedule); the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Article 140A); the Criminal Laws (Amend­ment) Bill, 2020 (Section 292); the Minorities Access to Higher Education Bill, 2020; the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Section 427 to 429, 435 to 440, 447 to 458, 461, 462 and Schedule II of CrPC); the Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Islamic Deve­lopment Bank (Amend­ment) Bill, 2020 and the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2020

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