ISLAMABAD: The Senate is set to implement a new code of conduct which envisages serious penalties for violators including suspension of house membership.
The upper house of parliament passed a draft code of conduct for senators with a majority vote on Thursday. Only three senators, two from JUI-F and one from the ruling PML-N, opposed the initiative. They argued that it would open floodgates of complaints which could in turn tarnish the image of politicians.
According to the draft rules, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, citizens will be empowered to approach Senate’s committee on ethics if they have any genuine complaint against any senator.
The committee will then evaluate the complaint and examine the record in in-camera meetings. If a majority of the members believe the charge brought against a senator is unsubstantiated, they may choose to exonerate the senator. However, if three-fourths of the committee members conclude that a senator has breached the code of conduct, they could recommend suspension of the senator from the upper house.
Once the committee has voted, the Senate chairman can still play a role before the report is finalised. The committee can recommend the following action: “censure, reprimand, or suspension from the house for a specified period.” In light of the committee’s report, the upper house may sanction a member or otherwise while its decision shall be final with no means to appeal.
While the committee will hear complaints against senators, it will not entertain complaints based on ‘unsubstantiated media reports’. Further, if any complaint is found to be false or vexatious, or made in bad faith, the matter may also be taken up as an issue of breach of parliamentary privilege.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2016.