LAHORE: The treasury passed 12 bills in just 45 minutes during the Punjab Assembly session on Wednesday, clearing the government’s list of legislation before the completion of its tenure on May 31.
And while doing so the treasury members braved the suffocating heat in the house caused by a lack of internal arrangements to run air-conditioning system during the prolonged power breakdown that hit Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Fanning themselves with copies of the agenda they also successfully tackled three attempts by the opposition to obstruct the legislation by calling out short quorum.
Earlier, a pandemonium was witnessed in the very beginning of the session when the opposition members led by Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed came closer to the rostrum of Speaker Rana Iqbal, raising slogans against the Sharif brothers and demanding punishment for ousted premier Nawaz Sharif on the charge of committing sedition.
They torn apart copies of the day’s agenda and tossed the pieces into the air, also blaming the government for the country-wide power breakdown. Mr Rasheed said it was failure of the government which had been bragging about producing surplus electricity in the country.
The speaker who had earlier requested the opposition to join the farewell photo session in the assembly and attend a dinner in the evening, intervened but could not prevent a rumpus as a PML-N women member jumped in, raising slogans against PTI chairman Imran Khan.
The session started two hours behind its scheduled time of 10am due to the power breakdown. The rumpus ended as Rasheed and his team pointed out short quorum while staging a walkout against a refusal by the speaker to allow an out-of-turn resolution against Mr Nawaz Sharif’s controversial remarks in a recent interview.
The speaker adjourned the proceedings for five minutes during which the required number of the PML-N MPAs returned to the house to maintain the quorum, establishing that the government was determined to pass its 13 bills on the day’s agenda.
Question hour on agriculture, home and environment followed but went by quickly because majority questioners were opposition members who had opted out. It was PTI’s Asif Mehmood who once again pointed our short quorum before the speaker could start government business (legislation).
Again the house was adjourned for five minutes, allowing the treasury to show the required number of its members and boost confidence of minorities minister Khalil Tahir Sandhu to go through his task of legislation in top gear in the presence of law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan.
He introduced three bills — The Drugs (Punjab Amendment) Bill 2018, The Punjab Legal Aid Bill 2018 and the Punjab Criminal Prosecution Service Inspectorate Bill 2018 — and was allowed their passage after suspension of rules. He also introduced The Punjab Fertilizers Bill 2018 which the speaker referred to the standing committee concerned for filing a report by May 28th, showing the government’s lack of interest in its immediate passage.
Nine other bills already introduced in the house and checked by the standing committees concerned were also passed swiftly.
Deputy Speaker Sher Ali Gorchani replaced the speaker at 2.45pm to further accelerate the pace and complete the legislation in the next 25 minutes.
The opposition remained out of the house during the process which was completed in 45 minutes. It sent MPA Arif Abbasi to once again point out short quorum. But the treasury MPAs who had gone out for fresh air soon returned to maintain quorum.
The session was adjourned till 11am on Thursday and it was said it would be the last of the present assembly. Before leaving, Mr Sandhu congratulated the house for passing 191 laws in its five-year term which he claimed was a record in Punjab.
The laws that were hurriedly passed included The Punjab Witness Protection Bill, The Punjab Government Servants Housing Foundation (Amendment) Bill 2018, The Punjab University of Technology Rasul Bill, The Punjab Bonded Labour System (Abolition) (Amendment) Bill 2018, The Explosive Substances (Punjab Amendment) Bill , The Registration (Punjab Amendment) Bill, The Registration (Punjab Second Amendment) Bill, The Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill and The Punjab Agricultural Marketing Regulatory Authority Bill.
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2018