Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari set a new trend in the Punjab Assembly when he, under Rule 234, called for the suspension of rules despite not being requested by another member of the house. He subsequently allowed a treasury member to move her resolution on “International Day of Human Rights”.
“We are suspending the rules to take up the resolution of Nusrat Jamshed Cheema, Abida Bibi and Hina Pervez Butt,” he said. He then directed Cheema to present the motion to suspend the rules. After accepting the motion, the deputy speaker allowed the mover to read her resolution.
Rule 234 of the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997, which allows such a suspension, says, “Whenever any inconsistency or difficulty arises in the application of these rules, a member may, with the consent of the Speaker, move that any rule may be suspended in its application to a particular motion before the Assembly, and if the motion is carried, the rule in question shall stand so suspended.”
On Tuesday, instead of following the request of a member, the deputy speaker himself acted on his discretion. This development created a murmur in the house. The speaker normally acts on the request of another MPA, which in case of the treasury, is usually the minister for law and parliamentary affairs.
Instead, the chair itself first extended the time of proceedings when the house finished the agenda for the day and then announced the suspension of business to allow Mussarat Jamshaid Cheema to read her resolution.
The resolution states “The Article 25 of the Constitution grants equal rights to all citizens. This House demands the federal government to declare 2019 the year for awareness on human rights and be dedicated to ensuring all these rights. The federal government should also conduct seminars and other programs to raise the level of awareness.”
Following this, the opposition boycotted house proceedings after a resolution was dismissed which demanded that the federal government provide a subsidy for farmers on tube wells. Provincial Minister for Law Raja Basharat tried to control the situation, saying PTI was working on a comprehensive agriculture policy and subsidies were part of the plan. However, this was in vain and the chair asked ministers Chaudhry Zaheeruddin and Mian Aslam Iqbal to request the opposition to return. The second attempt was successful in bringing them back.
The lawyer’s strike, which entered in 27th day in major cities of the province, also came up for discussion when three opposition members, belonging to Faisalabad and Gujranwala, tried to move resolutions in favour of their demands. The demands included setting up high court benches in their respective cities.
Minister for law Raja Basharat said the opposition must realise that setting up benches was the prerogative of the chief justice of the Lahore High Court. The Punjab government was also providing its input, but at end of the day, only the high court could decide over such a matter.
Tahir Sindhu of the opposition, a lawyer himself, did not agree with the law minister. “It has to be the cabinet’s decision, followed up by the governor. It has nothing to do with the chief justice of the high court.” He stated the PML-N government had already taken a decision and sent the matter to the governor. However, the minister did not agree and continued insisting that only the LHC could take a decision. He stated that the government was positively pursuing the matter.
During the question-answer session, PML-N’s Chaudhary Akhtar Ali once again challenged the allegedly false information shared by a department which claimed that “No scheme is under consideration over the payment of insurance amount to government employees after their retirement”. He demanded that the house either punish the official concerned or make an example of the department for sending false information to the house.
Raja Basharat stood up and informed the house that it was a clerical mistake and there was a scheme which is under the consideration of the government. He claimed there was a need to amend rules, adding they will take up the draft. He assured the assembly that those employees who had retried would be given their insurance amount under this policy.
Later, Minister for Revenue Malik Muhammad Anwar told the house that they are going to launch more than 102 ‘araazi centers’ in the coming month. He was responding to the query over the performance of land record computer centres and increasing its numbers.
The house was till 11am on Wednesday (today).
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