ISLAMABAD: Though parliamentarians usually complain that their bills remain pending in standing committees for months and years, the National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Monday disapproved three bills whose movers had come to defend them.
“I have got directions from the higher authorities that instead of deferring the bills either approve or disapprove them. So we have to take a decision on every bill,” the chairman of the committee, Chaudhry Mahmood Bashir Virk, told a meeting of the committee.
The committee then disapproved the bills tabled by MNAs Naeema Kishwer Khan, Mohammad Muzamil Qureshi and Asiya Nasir. However, the bills filed by MNAs Munaza Hassan and Sajid Ahmed were deferred as they could not attend the meeting.
Defending her bill, Naeema Kishwer of the JUI-F said the reserved seats for women and minorities should be allocated on the basis of votes polled by the political parties instead of the number of seats they won in the assemblies.
She claimed that the number of seats did not show the true picture of a party’s representation. The reserved members are nominated soon after the elections but there have been cases when a candidate contested elections on more than one seats but their party could not retain all the seats in the by-elections. She gave the example of Javed Hashmi, who contested the elections on the ticket of the PTI in 2013 but lost the seat in a by-election as an independent candidate after quitting the party. Even the PTI could not retain the seat as it was won by another independent candidate.
Two bills deferred as their movers could not attend meeting of the committee on law and justice
MNA Rajab Ali Khan Baloch of the PML-N said it was not a good suggestion. He said if the reserved seats were given on the basis of votes, the general seats should also be allocated under the same criterion.
However, Ms Kishwer said the idea of allocating all the seats on the basis of votes had already been rejected by the PML-N and PPP so it was not possible.
Retired Justice Iftikhar Ahmad Cheema of the PML-N also said either the whole system should be based on the basis of votes or the idea should be rejected.
Mohammad Ayaz Soomro, an MNA of the PPP, said first a census should be held and after that the bill can be adopted. However, Ms Kishwer said the bill had nothing to do with the census as the seats would be allocated on the basis of the polled votes.
Aisha Syed, who belongs to Jamaat-i-Islami, spoke in favour of the bill and said it should be approved.
“In the first phase, the bill can be implemented on the reserved seats and in the second phase it can be extended to the overall elections,” she suggested.
Opposing the bill, MNA Kiran Haider of the PML-N said in Balochistan winning candidates scored just a few thousands of votes compared to Punjab where the number of votes bagged by the winners reached tens of thousands, so it would create confusion.
However, Ms Kishwer said the bill clearly stated that the process would be adopted separately for all the provinces and the objection was illogical.
The chairman of the committee said sometimes members were de-seated because of different issues so he was also not in favour of the bill.
Ms Kishwer said members can be de-seated but the votes polled by them would remain the same. She said the members should convince her about the flaws in the bill otherwise it should be approved.
However, Mr Virk said they were not bound to convince her, and the bill was disapproved.
Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2016