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April 26, 2019

Legislative scene in NA: Umpteen private members’ bills lying unattended

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April 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: While the government is yet to unveil its legislative business in the National Assembly (NA), the lawmakers belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Mutahidda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) have introduced twenty-two bills in the Lower House of Parliament in their private capacity.

They are called the private members’ bills, which were tabled after the present government came in place on August 18 last year. They were moved by twenty-six lawmakers. The PTI legislators outnumber the members of other parties in proposing non-government legislative drafts.

According to the official data, six PTI legislators tabled ten bills; two PML-N lawmakers moved as many bills; nine MMA members sponsored six bills; three PPP legislators tabled as many bills while an independent moved two bills.

Though a small number in the 342-member National Assembly, the sponsorship of the twenty-two bills by twenty-six members shows that these lawmakers hailing from three important parliamentary parties have the urge to have substantive legislation approved by the Parliament.

It has hardly happened that a private member’s bill is owned by the government and passed by the Parliament. For this precise reason, all these non-official bills are lying unattended despite the fact that their movers keep stressing that they be cleared without any delay.

However, in a departure from this time-tested practice, a few weeks back a private members’ bill tabled by five lawmakers of the Punjab Assembly of PTI, PML-N and PPP was quickly passed for the mere fact that it provided for unprecedented raise in the salaries, perks and privileges of the chief minister, ministers, advisers, special assistants, parliamentary secretaries and all the legislators. But its fate still hangs in the wake of strong public outcry and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s open annoyance over the unheard of rise in emoluments. The bill can only be scrapped by the provincial legislature that hasn’t so far been done.

The only principal reason behind not moving any substantive bill in the National Assembly by the government is that it knows that even if it was passed, it would not get approval of the Senate because of the dominant position of the opposition parties in the Upper House of Parliament.

However, experts and parliamentary observers point out that in case a government bill cleared by the National Assembly is rejected by the Senate, the ruling coalition can summon a joint sitting of the Parliament where it is in majority to get such legislation passed.

In addition, if a bill approved by the Lower House is discarded by the Senate, the government can take the public stand that it did try to get its legislative agenda implemented but the opposition created hurdles in its execution.

The only government legislative business transacted by the National Assembly thus far includes approval of two supplementary budgets in October last and March, 2019, and repeal of laws relating to prohibition of juvenile smoking and smoking in cinema houses. Any bill having financial impact need not to be sent to the Senate and only the National Assembly has the power to deal with it.

Syed Javed Hassan of the PML-N has moved the Family Courts (Amendment) Act, 2019 and Sher Akbar Khan of the PTI has tabled the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Ms. Shahida Rehman of the PPP has sponsored the Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2019 while Mohsin Dawar (independent) has moved the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Similarly, Sajid Khan of the PTI has tabled the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Naveed Aamir Jeeva of the PPP had sponsored the Prohibition of Forced Religious Conversion Bill, 2019.

Senior PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah has moved a Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 and Riaz Fatayana of the PTI has tabled the Chamber of Agriculture Bill, 2019.

MMA’s Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali has sponsored the Eradication of Riba Bill, 2019 and Sajida Begum of the PTI has moved the Microfinance Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Likewise, PTI’s Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has tabled a Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019. Five MPs including Maulana Chitrali, Shahida Akhtar Ali (MMA), Aliya Kamran (MMA), Mohsin Dawar and Salahuddin Ayubi (MMA) have sponsored the National Database and Registration Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

MMA’s Aliya Kamran has also tabled the Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeking raise in the number of Islamabad High Court judges with two from each province.

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has also moved another Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2018 and Fatayana has tabled Pakistan Psychological Council Act, 2018. Maulana Chitrali has also sponsored the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Ailya Kamran has moved the Legal Practitioners and Bar Councils (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and Maulana Chitrali has tabled a Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2018.

Ailya Kamran has also sponsored the National Commission on the Status of Women (Amendment) Bill, 2018 and Naveed Aamir Jeeva of the PPP has tabled a Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018.

Similarly Ailya Kamran has moved a Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2018 while Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani has sponsored the Evacuee Trust Properties (Management and Disposal) (Amendment) Act, 2018.

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