Recent decisions by Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan have triggered a heated legal debate in the corridors of parliament. Officials in the National Assembly Secretariat are of the view that Khan’s recent decisions to constitute special committees of the PAC and later dissolving them are questionable.
A senior official, wishing to remain anonymous, has told The Express Tribune that according to the ‘Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly, 2007’, it “is abundantly clear how a special committee can be constituted only through a motion in the lower house of parliament”.
The official emphasised that Article 244 (B) of the rules states: “The Assembly may, by motion appoint a special committee, which shall have such composition and functions as may be specified in the motion,” while the PAC chairman constituted more than one special committees and sub-committees to “clear the huge backlog accumulated over the years”.
It is learnt that the National Assembly Secretariat questioned the constitution of special committees after a report, compiled by one of the special committees headed by Riaz Pirzada, was forwarded to the Special Secretary National Assembly Moeenul Islam Bukhari. Sources say Bukhari noted on the report that since a special committee can only be constituted by the house, it should be labeled a sub-committee instead of being called special committee.
Senior officials of the National Assembly Secretariat maintained that Nisar Ali Khan had constituted sub-committees, special committees, monitoring and implementation committees with the consent of PAC members. They, however, argue that Khan should have sought the consent of the PAC for dissolving all sub-committees and special committees.
“He took the decision on his own and didn’t consult other members before dissolving the committees by convening a PAC meeting,” an official said.
Khan is likely to convene a meeting of the PAC after Eid when political observers believe he may quit from his post.
Sources within the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) are of the view that party chief Nawaz Sharif is insisting Nisar Ali Khan to carry on.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 29th, 2011.
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