The Punjab Assembly (PA) on Wednesday passed seven bills, which had been returned to the assembly secretariat by Governor Sardar Latif Khan Khosa with objections, without any amendments.
Four new bills were also passed while one new bill was introduced in a marathon session. The house also entertained various adjournment motions and a question hour about the Planning and Development Board and Finance Department. The PA session resumed at 12:35pm, instead of the scheduled time of 10am with Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan, as chair.
The 12 bills were introduced by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah.
Objecting to the presentation of the bills, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) MPA Ehsanul Haq Naulatia said, “The treasury benches have set a new record by presenting 11 bills in the house to pass in one day. This is an insult to the legislative process.”
Calling it ‘hammer-head’ law-making, he said the governor’s valid objections had to be taken into account. “The federal government took everyone on board during the debate on the 18th, 19th and 20th Amendments,” he said.
Sanaullah said, “The federal government had to do so since it was passing constitutional amendments. Only recently it passed the Contempt of Court Bill without even sending it to a parliamentary committee.”
“The governor has hired a team of English-writers , who write the same type of objections on every bill, ” he said.
“The Punjab government has legislated in accordance with the process laid down in the Constitution,” Sanaullah said.
An adjournment motion was moved by PML-Q Unification bloc leader Sheikh Allauddin, alleging Oscar winner Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy had not fulfilled the promises she had made to acid victim Rukhsana Bibi. The house declared its sympathies lay with Rukhsana and urged her to move court against Chinoy.
Alauddin, known for making unsavory remarks against female colleagues, had demanded that the “real face” of Chinoy be exposed and action taken against all NGOs “working against the country.”
The motion says Rukhsana Bibi was the central character of the Oscar Award winning documentary Saving Face. It says that Chinoy had approached Rukhsana to make a documentary on acid attack victims and signed a contract with her. It says the contract offered Rukhsana Rs3 million, a constructed home in Multan and expenditures for the plastic surgery of her face. It says that while Chinoy received an Oscar and earned “billions of rupees,” Rukhsana was now knocking on various doors to take legal action against Chinoy’s NGO.
“The damage the film has done to the image of the country is a separate story,” it says. It demanded that Survivor Foundation of Pakistan, an NGO which made the film, be questioned about the sponsors and their objectives.
Female opposition members spoke against Allauddin and said that the Rukhsana case should be discussed and dealt with in court, not the house.
Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said it was a “fact” that Chinoy has betrayed Rukhsana, who is now suffering. “Although the house accepts she (Rukhsana) is suffering, the right course of action is to move court to address her grievances,” he said.
The speaker then disposed off the adjournment motion.
The Punjab Social Services Board Bill 2012 was introduced in the house while seven bills returned to the house by the governor after raising objections were passed again.
These included the Parks and Horticulture Authority Bill, the Punjab Animal Slaughter Control Bill, the Punjab Curriculum Authority Bill, the Disposal of Land By Development Authorities Bill, the Punjab Agriculture University Bill, the University of Health Sciences Bill and the King Edward Medical University Bill. Even if the governor raises any objections again, the bills will be considered as acts after 10 days.
Four new bills, including the Punjab Information Technology University Bill, the Punjab Government Servants Housing Foundation Bill, the Punjab Court of Wards Bill and the Punjab Civil Servants Bill.
The speaker adjourned the session till Thursday morning.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.