- Chief Minister absent from House since June 24, 2016
- Six out of eight sittings adjourned due to lack of quorum
ISLAMABAD, December 9, 2016: Lack of interest of provincial lawmakers in proceedings marked the 25th session of Punjab Assembly, which passed seven government bills and witnessed introduction of one legislative proposal.
The session continued for eight sittings from November 24, 2016 to December 5, 2016. The cumulative duration of the sittings was 16 hours and 31 minutes as each sitting, on average, saw a delay of an hour and 31 minutes from its starting time and continued for two hours and four minutes.
The lack of quorum persisted during the entire session and it was pointed out for eleven times in eight sittings. Six sittings had to be adjourned due to presence of less than 25% (93) lawmakers in the House while the required number was found complete for four times upon counting after the customary bells were rung for five minutes. One instance was such when quorum was found complete upon counting.
The session, comprising eight sittings, started on November 24, 2016 and concluded on December 5, 2016. On average, each sitting started 91 minutes behind the schedule and lasted two hours and four minutes.
According to FAFEN’s observation, the lawmakers’ attendance remained low throughout the session – with an average of 22 (6%) members present at the start and 55 (15%) at the end of each sitting. The Chief Minister remained absent throughout the session, while the Opposition Leader attended seven out of eight sittings for a total of 28% of the session’s time. Chief Minister appeared in the House last time on June 24, 2016 during 22nd session and since then he had not attended any of the sitting of last three sessions.
Nearly 62% of the session was chaired by the Speaker, who was present for seven sitting. The Deputy Speaker attended four sittings and presided over 22% of the session while 16% of the time was consumed in breaks and suspension of the sittings due to lack of quorum.
The parliamentary leader of JI attended four sittings followed by PPPP (2) and PML-Z (one). Parliamentary leaders of the PML, BNA-P and PNML did not attend any of the sittings.
The entire session was marked by lack of quorum and it was pointed out in all eight sittings of the session. The lawmakers pointed out quorum eleven times and six sittings (1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 8) had to be adjourned due to lack of quorum while it got completed in four sittings after ringing bell for five minutes. Once, the headcount was made and quorum was found complete.
Eight bills sponsored by the government and one private member’s bill appeared on the list of business. Of these, seven government bills were passed which included the Punjab Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Punjab Local Government (Sixth Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Forman Christian College Lahore (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Parks and Horticulture Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Punjab Halal Development Agency Bill, 2016 and the Punjab Animals Feed Stuff and Compound Feed Bill, 2016. The only government bill introduced in the House was the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
According to the Sub section 6 of section 91 of Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997, “an Ordinance laid before the Assembly under clause (2) of Article 128 of the Constitution shall be deemed to be a Bill introduced in the Assembly on the day it is so laid”. Two Ordinances presented in the House included the Punjab Land Records Authority Ordinance, 2016 and the Punjab Urban Immovable Property Tax (Amendment) Ordinance, 2016. One private member’s bill – the Punjab Land Preservation (Amendment) Bill, 2016 – was not taken up by the House due to early adjournment of sitting after lack of quorum.
The House unanimously adopted a supplementary resolution to condemn Indian aggression on Line of Control and paid rich tributes to Pakistan Army for giving a befitting response to India. It urged the federal government to raise the issue internationally to press India to abide by International Laws.
Seven other resolutions appearing on the agenda were not taken up which were about ineffective action against illegal slaughter houses; decanting gas in cylinders illegally, education of Quran and its translation in educational institutions; sale of notebooks of private schools at affordable prices and without logo; unstandardized seed and illegal drug sellers; provision of solar system on subsidized rates to farmers and declaring blood screening test mandatory before Nikah.
Out of 145 starred questions, only 50 (34%) were taken up during the session and responded by the relevant ministries/departments. The MPAs also raised 98 supplementary questions to gain further clarity on government’s responses.
The House witnessed presentation of five reports of various committees on legislative proposals while six reports on questions of privileges were also presented. The House granted extension in time period for submission of 28 reports about various parliamentary interventions.
Calling Attention Notices/Adjournment Motions
The House took up five Calling Attention Notices (CANs) about law and order situation while one CAN on the same subject was kept pending.
The lawmakers sponsored five Adjournment Motions on various matters of urgent public importance during this session. All of these AMs were kept pending throughout the session as no replies were received from the treasury. These AMs were related to health sector, bad governance and law and order.
The matters concerning corruption, bad governance, health sector and education were highlighted through these motions. Seven of these motions were sponsored by PML-N lawmakers, four by PTI and one by PML.
Six lawmakers – PTI (2), PML-N (2) and PPPP (one) – submitted one privilege motion each. Three motions were against public servants for misbehaving with lawmakers, two against illegal arrests by police and one against misleading statement of DCO Gujrat. Four motions were referred to relevant Committee on Privileges and two were kept pending.
The entire opposition staged a token walkout in first sitting for eight minutes against deteriorating law and order situation in the province. In the same sitting, JI Parliamentary Leader walked out against defensive India-policy of the federal government.
During 5th sitting, JI Parliamentary Leader boycotted the proceedings of the House after unsatisfactory reply to question raised by him which was accompanied by entire Opposition through walkout with him for five minutes.
A PTI lawmaker protested within the House for three minutes against the attitude of the Chair for not allowing him to speak on a parliamentary intervention.
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