Senate to take up bill on new high court benches today

Updated January 27, 2020

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The bill, which requires the approval of a two-thirds majority in the 104-member Senate, has been on the agenda of the sittings on the previous two Mondays, the private member’s day, but the house could not take it up due to the lack of required numbers. — APP/File
The bill, which requires the approval of a two-thirds majority in the 104-member Senate, has been on the agenda of the sittings on the previous two Mondays, the private member’s day, but the house could not take it up due to the lack of required numbers. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate is once again set to take up on Monday (today) an opposition-moved constitution amendment bill seeking establishment of 10 more high court benches in all the four provinces of the country aiming at resolving the issues of pendency and delay in litigation.

The bill seeking an amendment to Article 198 of the Constitution had been tabled by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz member Javed Abbasi as a private member’s bill in the Senate on April 29, last year, and Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had referred it to the law and justice committee of the house despite its opposition by the government.

The bill, which requires the approval of a two-thirds majority in the 104-member Senate, has been on the agenda of the sittings on the previous two Mondays, the private member’s day, but the house could not take it up due to the lack of required numbers.

When contacted, Mr Abbasi said that he and his party were making efforts to ensure the presence of the maximum number of members on Monday to fulfill the requirement of the two-thirds majority for which they required 68 members to be present.

Responding to a question, he agreed that it would be a difficult task to ensure the presence of the two-thirds majority in the prevailing circumstances when the Senate had been in session for a long time only to fulfill another constitutional requirement of holding at least 110 sittings in a parliamentary year.

Interestingly, Mr Abbasi himself is the chairman of the Senate’s law and justice committee which had approved the bill in its meeting on May 16. However, he had recused himself from presiding over the meeting when the committee considered his bill and the meeting was then presided over by Pakistan Peoples Party Senator Farooq Naek.

The report of the committee was later laid before the house by Mr Abbasi himself on September 3.

Out of 14 members of the opposition-dominated committee, only seven were present in the meeting when the bill was approved. Senator Mohammad Ali Saif of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was the only member from the treasury benches who had attended the meeting.

The bill seeks setting up of four new high court benches in Punjab, and two each in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Mr Abbasi claimed that he had already talked to the members of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and they had also assured him of their support for the bill.

At the time of moving the bill in the Senate, Mr Abbasi had stated that he was presenting the bill in the light of the demand of the lawyers from all over the country. The demand, was made by the representatives of various bars who had appeared before the committee to discuss their issues.

Published in Dawn, January 27th, 2020