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February 20, 2020

Legislation in haste raises questions over KP Assembly’s procedures

National

February 20, 2020

PESHAWAR: Introduction and passage of some bills and motions in haste during an uproar in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday has raised questions on the proper legislation procedure on the floor of the provincial lawmaking body.

On the first day of the current session, the opposition parties were protesting against what they called ‘partial and indifferent attitude’ of the Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani. During the protest, the treasury benches continued the assembly business and introduced several important bills and motions.

On the second day, when the opposition continued the protest and even some of the lawmakers were engaged in fist-fighting and harsh words, the speaker passed Land Acquisition Act for the newly merged districts, tabled by Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan during the ear-deafening shouting in the assembly hall from both sides of the House.

“We have to continue our legislation and assembly business even if the opposition members are on protest,” Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs Sultan Muhammad Khan told this scribe. He added that the chair had even named those who had suggested amendments to the bill but the movers did not respond positively.

The minister said the same bill (Land Acquisition Amendment Bill 2020) was introduced some two months ago in the House when Shakeel Ahmad Khan was part of the provincial cabinet.

The opposition parties were given a proper chance to bring amendments to the bill. He said that the speaker, as well as treasury benches, had adopted a proper procedure for legislation and wanted to take the opposition members on board but when they were not serious about the assembly business.

“The government still offers the opposition to stop the protest and get serious about the assembly business as the assembly proceedings entail a huge cost,” he added. On the other hand, a former provincial minister and parliamentary party leader of Jamaat-e-Islami, Inyatullah Khan, said the government had made up its mind to legislate in haste and continue the assembly business based on the strength of its two-thirds majority in the House.

“I had proposed some amendments to British-era laws now to be extended to the newly merged districts of the province but I was not given the chance to defend my amendment,” he said while adding that the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly had become a ‘rubber stamp’ in the hands of the rulers.

Bahadur Khan of the Awami National Party said that there must be a proper discussion on each bill and motion on the assembly floor and if the opposition opposes a bill, then the speaker should put it to a vote and counting.

“The speaker did not follow proper procedure for the approval of the important bills on Tuesday and made the legislation in haste,” he said, adding that such legislation was neither good for the government nor the general public.