Senate body, ministry at odds over interpretation of rules

Published August 26, 2020
The committee had expressed concerns over the performance of the ministry in its meeting held on Aug 18 and the absence of Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain from the meeting.— File photo
The committee had expressed concerns over the performance of the ministry in its meeting held on Aug 18 and the absence of Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain from the meeting.— File photo

ISLAMABAD: Disagree­ment about the interpretation of some rules has erupted between the Ministry of Science and Technology and the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Science & Technology with both sides accusing each other of not understanding the rules and manipulating the issue.

The committee had expressed concerns over the performance of the ministry in its meeting held on Aug 18 and the absence of Minister Chaudhry Fawad Hussain from the meeting.

However, the following day Mr Hussain expressed displeasure over the proceedings of the meeting and wrote a letter to the chairman of standing committee, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, referring to media reports that the committee had expressed disapproval of his absence in the Senate Stan­ding Committee meeting.

The minister said in accordance with Chapter XVII clause 158 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, the Senate Standing Committees are obliged to seek prior availability of the minister concerned to attend meetings of the committees.

“Similarly, with regards to the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Science & Technology in which you noticed my absence with displeasure, no prior availability was sought, and that the timings of the meeting of the Senate Standing Committee.”

The minister was of the opinion that the deliberations and concerns expressed in the meeting of the Standing Committee with respect to the administrative structure appointment of heads of subordinate organisations of the ministry did not come within the ambit of the Senate Standing Committee “rather, it is solely an internal administrative matter of the ministry. On the contrary, the Standing Committee must focus on offering guidelines and suggestions on policy-making,” the minister said and added that it had been observed that the discussions and deliberations expressed in such meetings appeared to be politically-motivated.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad, however, said that the committee had not discussed any political matter, explaining that all political parliamentary parties had representation in standing committees, including the Standing Committee on Science and Technology.

“I would like to remind that you have misquoted the Rule 158 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate. 2012,” Senator Ahmad said and added that it did not seek concurrence of the minister or the ministry for holding a meeting of the committee.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2020

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