Bills’ approval: National Assembly panels step up their game

Several bills suggested recommendations, while hardly a handful gets the nod

Qadeer Tanoli February 24, 2018
National Assembly. PHOTO: APP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly session prorogued on Tuesday witnessed introduction of several private members’ bills, of which, three won the support of lawmakers and were passed, but several other private members’ bills could not sail through as the standing committees concerned suggested recommendations.

‘The Federal Protection Bill 2015’, moved by JI’s Aisha Syed, is one of those bills which was claimed to be the need of the hour but the Standing Committee on Interior in its recommendations suggested not to pass it.

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The bill sought amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 and aimed to provide several measures for the protection of witnesses in criminal cases.

In the present law and order situation and to control terrorists acts, the draft bill had suggested that only the personal identity number of the witnesses would be mentioned everywhere in the statement by the police officer and original names and addresses of the witnesses would not be disclosed. It had stated four areas, including treason, sedition, murder and rape, in which protection to witnesses would be granted to encourage them and protect their families.

The drafted bill had proposed to give special power to the courts to monitor the acts of authorities regarding witness protection.

‘The Protection of Journalist Bill 2014,” moved by lawmakers of the JI, also failed in getting the nod from the NA panel on information.

The main point of the proposed bill maintained in its ‘statement of objects and reasons’ stated that there was no particular law in Pakistan for the safety of journalists. Due to non-existence of legal protection, violence had become a common practice as they were harassed, killed and injured while carrying out their responsibilities.

“It is a fact that more than 80 journalists have been killed since January 1, 2000 and incidents of attacks, violence, murder, kidnapping, harassment, detention and others have been committed against more than 2,000 journalists,” it stated. “It is also a fact that no murderers of journalists have been arrested nor any sentence for prosecuting the culprits has been awarded. Sentence in Wali Babar’s case had been awarded but the criminals are still at large.”

However, the drafted bill could not win the nod of the standing committee concerned which recommended that it may not be passed.

Another bill ‘The Religious Scholar, Ulema and Pesh Imams Welfare Act 2017’, seeking financial support for religious scholars, was also turned down by the Standing Committee on Interior.

The proposed draft bill had sought establishment of ‘Religious Scholars, Ulema and Pesh Imams Welfare Fund,’ for grants made by the federal government.

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The proposed draft bill had declared the government responsible for ensuring reasonable financial resources for dignified and respectful living of the religious scholars and prayer leaders. It also aimed to give financial support to such persons for performing Hajj, Umrah or Ziarat so that they may revive the spirit of Islam among the people of Pakistan. However, that bill too failed to achieve the nod of the panel as it recommended that it may not be passed.

Another interesting proposed bill ‘The Representation of People (Amendment) Bill 2016’ moved by MQM’s lawmaker Dr Nikhat Shakeel Khan also failed to get approval from the Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs.

According to the proposed bill, disabled people faced great hurdles when they go to cast their vote. It was of the view that building infrastructures in the country where the Election Commission of Pakistan establishes polling stations lack facilities which cater to the needs of the people with disability (ies). The proposed bill had aimed to give these persons the option to cast vote through postal ballot. However, this proposed bill too could not win the support of the panel to get it passed from the National Assembly.

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