Senate Passes Two Bills, Eight Resolutions during 270th Session

  • Constitutional Amendment on Delimitation Left Unaddressed

ISLAMABAD, November 28, 2017: The 270th Session of the Senate was prorogued without considering the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2017. The House passed two bills and eight resolutions during the session.

The session, comprising five sittings, continued from November 17, 2017 till November 27, 2017. With an average of 17% Senators present at the start and 14% at the end, each sitting commenced with an average delay of 20 minutes and lasted for an average two hours and 59 minutes. The average highest attendance during each sitting was 59 (57%) members including two minority lawmakers.

The cumulative duration of the proceedings was 14 hours and 55 minutes including the period of an hour and 20 minutes (nine percent of the duration) that was consumed in prayer breaks. The Chairman presided over entire proceedings w. The Deputy Chairman was present in one sitting. The Leader of the House attended 72% of the proceedings and was present in every sitting while the Leader of the Opposition attended 25% of the proceedings in four sittings. The Prime Minister did not attend any of the sitting.

The parliamentary leaders of PkMAP and BNP-M were present in every sitting while the leaders of MQM, PPPP, JUI-F, and NP attended four out of five sittings. The leader of PML attended three sittings, the leaders of ANP, PTI, BNP-A, JI two each and the leader of PML-F one sitting. PML-N Parliamentary leader did not attend any of the sittings.

The House passed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The bill, already passed by the National Assembly, sought to insert a new clause in the Elections Act 2017 regarding status of Ahmadi voters. The lawmakers also approved the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017 that provided for increasing the punishment and fine for public misbehavior by the drunken persons.

The House did not address the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2017 seeking amendments in the Article 51 of the Constitution for reallocation of seats among federating units. The proposed amendment also provides for the delimitation of the constitution on the basis of the provisional results of the National Population and Housing Census 2017. The bill appeared on the Orders of the Day four times but was not addressed.

A private member’s bill – the Prevention of Witchcraft Bill, 2017 – was referred to the Select Committee while a government bill – the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2017 – was referred to the relevant standing committee for further deliberations. The Chair deferred the Area Study Centres (Amendment) Bill, 2017 on request of the concerned lawmaker while the West Pakistan Pure Food (Amendment) Bill, 2017 was dropped due to absence of its mover.

The Chair informed the House that the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the Payment of Wages (Amendment) Bill, 2017 and two other bills seeking Amendment in Article 63A of the Constitution had been received back from the Standing Committees and were awaiting notices under Rule 100 for their consideration in the House.

The House adopted seven private members’ resolutions recommending the government to ensure security of all educational, religious and other public places in Islamabad; strengthen Police and other security institutions in the Federal Capital; establish a Research Institute (Think Tank) for providing input to the government on national and international issues; set up a branch of the National Bank of Pakistan at Mangal Mela of Tehsil Domail in District Bannu; make foolproof security arrangements for the pilgrims going to Iran; impose ban on manufacturing, import and sale of toy weapons; abolish interest on motor-vehicle and  housebuilding advances being granted to the Federal Government servants. The House also passed a supplementary resolution condemning the terrorist attack on a mosque in Egypt.

The House debated three Adjournment Motions (AMs) during the session. These debates highlighted the issues related to the country’s financial challenges, recent increase in the prices of petroleum products and the implications of the country’s Free Trade Agreements signed with China. As many as four Adjournment Motions (AM) seeking discussion on the statements of Afghan President about CPEC, political instability in the country, climate change and tax system in Pakistan were not admitted for the discussion for being in contravention of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012. An AM regarding repayment of the the interest and principal payment of loans was dropped due to absence of the concerned lawmaker.

The House took up two Calling Attention Notices (CANs) highlighting the issues of the vulnerability of drug industry to corruption and the vacancies in the Customs Collectorate of Quetta. The relevant ministers made statement on these issues while the CAN regarding vacancies in Customs Collectorate was referred to the relevant standing committee for further consideration. In addition, the House deferred a CAN regarding suspension of automatic weapon license due to absence of the Minister for Interior. Another CAN about proposal to sell out key assets of PIA was dropped due to absence of its mover.

The lawmakers spoke on Points of Public Importance at 39 instances during the proceedings consuming an hour and 53 minutes of the session. The ministers made statements on five Matters of Public Importance. As many as 15 lawmakers raised 17 Points of Order as well consuming 67 minutes of the proceedings.

The House concluded the debates on the formulation of a strategy for desalinating the sea water for industrial and domestic consumption, controlling the increasing smuggling of spurious medicines and narcotics policy of the government. These issues were discussed through Motions under Rule (MuR) 218. The House deferred the debates on seven MuR 218 while one MuR 218 was dropped due to absence of the concerned lawmaker.

The Senate Standing Committees presented six reports on various issues referred to the committees by the House. Moreover, the House also granted extension to four committees for presentation of their reports. The Chairman issued two rulings during the session on the announcement of the National Finance Commission (NFC) Award and the interpretation of Section 53 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016.

The House witnessed two incidents of lawmaker’s walkout from the proceedings. A PPPP lawmaker staged a token walkout during the first sitting against non-representation of Sindh in Indus System River Authority (IRSA) while a JUI-F Senator walked out from proceedings for 44 minutes when the Chair did not allow him to raise a Point of Public Importance.

This Session Report  is based on direct observation of the Senate proceeding conducted by Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN). Errors and omissions are excepted