PA session turns chaotic over budget debate

Lawmakers use abusive language; speaker intervenes to restore order

Rana Yasif June 25, 2024
Punjab Assembly. PHOTO: FILE


The Punjab Assembly's fourth consecutive day of general discussion on the annual budget 2024 descended into chaos as lawmakers from both the treasury and opposition used abusive language against each other, defending their respective leaderships.

The timely intervention of Punjab Assembly Speaker Malik MuhammadAhmad Khan, who used a stern tone, managed to rein in the lawmakers and maintain the decorum of the House.

Dozens of lawmakers delivered speeches, blaming each other's governments for the prevailing issues and labelling the budget as either pro-people or a "ghareeb makao budget."

The atmosphere turned particularly hostile when PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) lawmaker Hafiz Farhat Abbas responded to PML-N's Sami Ullah Khan during his speech.

Farhat Abbas's comments prompted a heated exchange with Sami Ullah Khan, who retorted with similar comments.

The verbal sparring escalated, with lawmakers from both sides using abusive language. Speaker Khan's strict intervention led both leaders to apologize to each other, after which Deputy Speaker Malik Zaheer Iqbal Channar adjourned the House until June 25 at 11 am.

During the session, Speaker Malik MuhammadAhmad Khan responded to an opposition point of order regarding the moral grounds for signing the Defamation Bill 2024.

He clarified that as acting governor, he was constitutionally bound to assent to the bill rather than waiting for the return of the Governor of Punjab, avoiding the lapse of the stipulated timeframe given in the Constitution.

On June 20, 2024, opposition member Rana Aftab Ahmad Khan raised concerns about the Speaker's role as acting governor, suggesting a conflict of interest.

Speaker Khan reserved the ruling to consider the matter in detail and later dismissed the point of order on June 24, 2024.

Speaker Khan explained that under Article 104 of the Constitution, the Speaker performs the functions of the Governor in the Governor’s absence, and Article 260 defines the office of Governor to include the acting Governor. He cited legal precedents to support his decision to assent to the bill.

Speaker Khan emphasised that he played an impartial role in the passage of the bill, adhering to constitutional duties without personal involvement in the bill’s content. He remarked that the opposition's concerns were more political than moral, and pointed out the inappropriateness of using the House or a point of order to discuss morality.


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