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Senate’s farewell session likely to begin on 27th

Updated February 22, 2015

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A view of the Senate sesion in progress.  — APP/file
A view of the Senate sesion in progress. — APP/file

ISLAMABAD: The last session of Senate is likely to commence on Feb 27 and will continue till the retirement of half of its members on March 11.

Sources in the government and the opposition told Dawn that the senators had been informally intimated about the government plan to convene the session, which would be the farewell session for those retiring next month after completing their six-year term.

Polling to elect new senators in the national and provincial assemblies is scheduled to be held on March 5. Thus, the Senate session will provide an opportunity to members to discuss the election process and its likely outcome.

During the 12th parliamentary year, which began on March 12 last year, the Senate passed 10 bills, including the controversial amendment which paved the way for the creation of military courts.

The data obtained from the Senate Secretariat shows that last year assed 10 resolutions were passed by the members on national and international issues.

The house witnessed introduction of 12 bills, including eight private members’ bills. Five bills were sent to the upper house by the National Assembly.

The Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice, in a meeting last week, approved drafts of three important bills, including the one seeking ban on holding of dual nationality by judges, armed forces’ personnel and government officials.

The chairman of the committee, Mohammad Kazim Khan of the opposition PPP, who is also among the senators retiring on March 11, is expected to present the last report of the committee in the coming session.

The committee has also approved a strong “Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2014” seeking to ensure speedy justice to rape victims and suggesting strict punishment for the culprits, including police officials and government officials, if the crime is committed while the victim is in custody.

The bill was moved by PPP’s Sughra Imam, who is also retiring next month. A source in the party said she would request the house for the passage of the bill during the forthcoming sitting as it would be her last session as senator.

Though, under the rules, a bill after its passage by a committee does not lapse despite retirement of its mover, Ms Imam would like to see it sailed through the Senate in the forthcoming session as she would not be available to take its credit or give explanation of its clauses after her retirement.

Prominent among the retiring senators who have little or no chance of reclaiming the position are Senate Chairman Nayyar Hussain Bokhari, Deputy Chairman Sabir Baloch, PML-Q president Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Afrasiab Khattak, Haji Adeel and Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party.

Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq, Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, Environment Minister Mushahidullah Khan, Prof Sajid Mir, Najma Hameed and Sardar Yaqoob Nasir of PML-N are also among the retiring senators. But all of them have obtained the party ticket for the coming polls and, given the party’s position in the assemblies of Punjab and Balochistan, they have bright chances of becoming senators for another term.

The Senate comprises 104 members – 23 each from the four federating units, eight from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and four from Islamabad.

The 23 seats allocated to a province comprise 14 general seats, four reserved for women, four for technocrats and one for a representative of minority communities.

The term of a senator is spread over six years, but 50 per cent of the total members retire every three years when elections are held for new senators.

Elections to fill the seats allocated to each province are held in accordance with the “system of proportional representation by means of the single transferable vote”.

Fata senators are elected by MNAs from the region, whereas four senators to the reserved seats for Islamabad are elected by members of the National Assembly.

The new senators are required to take oath on March 12.

Published in Dawn February 22nd , 2015

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