Senate session put off as opposition avoids no-trust move debate

Updated July 24, 2019

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The opposition in the Senate on Tuesday refused to discuss the no-trust motion against Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, prompting the chair to prorogue the house sine die within minutes. — APP/File
The opposition in the Senate on Tuesday refused to discuss the no-trust motion against Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, prompting the chair to prorogue the house sine die within minutes. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The opposition in the Senate on Tuesday refused to discuss the no-trust motion against Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, prompting the chair to prorogue the house sine die within minutes.

At the outset, the leader of the opposition in the Senate, Raja Muhammad Zafarul Haq, referred to the requisition submitted with the Senate secretariat along with a no-trust motion. He said the chairman wrote a letter to the opposition claiming that a no-trust motion cannot be moved in a requisitioned session.

He stated the opinion that the opposition had given a rejoinder to the letter, but instead of proceeding with its request, the day’s agenda included a discussion on the ‘removal of the chairman’ under Rule 218 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate, 2012. “There is neither a room for such a discussion in the rules, nor would we participate in it,” he remarked.

Pointing out that a session for voting has been summoned by the president to meet on Aug 1, he asked the chair to adjourn the house. When leader of the house in the Senate Syed Shibli Faraz rose in his seat to say something, opposition members chanted slogans of “No, no”. But contrary to the opposition’s expectations, Mr Faraz simply thanked the leader of the opposition and said that “We highly value what has been said by him”.

Chairman Senate Mr Sanjrani, who presided over the session, read out before proroguing the session the operative part of a ruling authored by him in his chamber. In his ruling, Mr Sanjrani said that under sub-rules 1 and 2 of the Rule 12 of the rules of procedure and conduct of business in the Senate, a notice of motion seeking to move a resolution to remove chairman or deputy chairman of the Senate can only be given during an ongoing session of the Senate. He added that under Rule 12 (2) of the rules, after the notice has been received, the Senate shall not be adjourned to a date later than seven clear days, excluding closed holidays.

He said the permission to move a no-trust motion in Tuesday’s session has not been granted as according to the ruling of the chair, dated Feb 10, 2016, the session could not have been requisitioned for moving a no-confidence resolution against the chairman or deputy chairman of the Senate.

He further spoke that despite the fact that the notice for a motion to seek permission for moving a resolution to remove the chairman Senate, it did not meet the condition set by Rule 12; he directed the Senate secretariat to circulate notices to members under Rule 12.

Mr Sanjrani explained that though the notices had not been received during an ongoing session, he had asked the Senate secretariat to write to the ministry of parliamentary affairs for moving a summary to the president for the summoning of a session under Article 54 (1). He said such a section was not there in the rules, but he had acted in accordance with his conscience to frustrate all efforts to weaken the Senate and make the office of the chairman of the Senate controversial.

“I am not holding the office to represent my province alone, but am responsible for defending the rights of all federating units. I am not here for my own good but am waging a struggle for the salvation of the Senate and the supremacy of the Constitution, rules and rulings of the chair. Individuals keep coming and going but institutions, the Constitution, rules, traditions and parliamentary procedures stay”, he remarked.

The chairman said that even if he were removed from office, he – as a member of the house – would continue to make efforts without caring about consequences for the prestige of parliament, the Constitution, and the rules and the rulings of the chair.

He directed the Senate secretariat to not set a precedent by having extraordinary procedures adopted with regards to the notices for motions seeking leave to move no-trust motions, and to strictly enforce Rule 12 of the Senate rules, standing orders and rulings of the chair.

Later, talking to reporters, former chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani said that the no-trust motion had been submitted in line with Article 54 (3) of the Constitution, read with Article 61 of the Constitution and not under Rule 218 of the rules.

He said the motion seeking leave for moving a no-confidence motion would be on the agenda when the house meets on Aug 1.

An official of the Senate secretariat told Dawn that both the motions against the chairman of the Senate and the deputy chairman Senate will be on the agenda for Aug 1 session of the House. He said therefore both of them will not be able to chair the session. He said a letter would be written to President Arif Alvi asking him to nominate a member of the Senate to chair the session on the day.

Published in Dawn, July 24th, 2019