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Saturday July 13, 2024

PPP questions Senate chairman’s role in denying requisitioned session

By Asim Yasin
September 28, 2023

ISLAMABAD: While demanding Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani to convene the Senate Session, PPP has asked how the chairman or the Senate Secretariat can play the role of a decision maker even if it is accepted that some senators withdrew their signatures on request to requisition the session.

PPP Senator Taj Haider wrote to Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani and raised the matter of the issue of rejecting the PPP’s requisition submitted for the Senate session. Haider mentioned to the Chairman receiving a letter signed by Muhammad Azam, Deputy Secretary (legislation) dated 25th September, who informed him that ‘the subject requisition does not fulfil the condition of the required number of members for summoning the Senate session by the Honorable Chairman Senate’. “As you would recall you had telephonically informed me that five honourable senators who had signed the above-mentioned requisition had withdrawn their signatures,” he said.

Hyder mentioned that in response to the Chairman’s Senate call, he had officially written to the Secretariat to provide the names of those senators who had allegedly withdrawn their names. Regardless of his written request, Senator Taj Haider stated that the letter dated September 25, does not mention names of honourable Senators who have allegedly withdrawn their names thus reducing the required numbers. Hyder raised seven legal questions in the letter.

The Constitution of Pakistan as well as the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate do not provide for withdrawal of signatures from a requisition after validly signing it. Even otherwise can valid signatures on a legal document be withdrawn on a subsequent date? Has the alleged withdrawal by five honourable senators been sent to the Senate Secretariat in writing or is it only through a telephone call allegedly made by the said signatories?

Did the Secretariat write to them that they should give their withdrawals in writing since it was a legal and constitutional matter? Even if the withdrawal of signatures was submitted to the secretariat in writing, has the secretariat kept these written letters in record and can the secretariat provide their copies to the undersigned? Even if we assume for a moment that the allegation is correct doesn’t it open a door for a few senators to keep their other worthy colleagues hostage even after signing a requisition?

How can the Senate Secretariat or even for that matter Office of the Chairman Senate assume a role of sitting as an adjudicator allowing withdrawal when no such role has been given by the Constitution or the Senate Rules? It is an established parliamentary convention that Parliamentary Party leaders get the signatures of their respective party members on such documents/requisitions. “Doesn’t the act of Chairman Senate or the Senate Secretariat of allowing withdrawals amount to infringing upon the authority of political parties heads and parliamentary parties leaders,” he questioned in the letter.

Referring to Article 54(3) of the Constitution read with rule 3 of Senate Rules, Senator Taj Haider said that summoning the Senate within 14 days, whenever a requisition signed by the required number of honourable members is submitted is the Constitutional duty of your high office. “Unlike, the constitutional role in the acceptance of resignations, the Constitution does not provide any role to the Chairman Senate with regard to withdrawal of signatures on the requisition,” he stated.

Taj Hyder said that the people of the country are undergoing immense hardships due to rising poverty levels, galloping inflation and rapidly increasing unemployment. “In such harrowing conditions which the people have never experienced in our history the House of the Federation cannot remain insensitive to the misery of our people,” he said. During these difficult times, he said that we the representatives of the people are struggling to even requisition the Senate let alone formulate joint strategies to address these issues on the floor of the House.

He said that it is rightly expected from the office of the Chairman Senate that he will act in the larger public interest and summon the Senate to hold a solution-oriented comprehensive debate on the Floor of the Senate to address the ongoing miseries of our people. “I sincerely hope that you would review your decision and immediately call the requisitioned session as Constitutionally and legally the requisition still stands,” he concluded.