Governor clips speaker’s powers; PA placed under law dept

Published June 16, 2022
LAHORE: PML-N MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt holds copies of the provincial budget outside the Aiwan-i-Iqbal Complex ahead of the session summoned by Governor Balighur Rehman on Wednesday.—Online
LAHORE: PML-N MPA Hina Pervaiz Butt holds copies of the provincial budget outside the Aiwan-i-Iqbal Complex ahead of the session summoned by Governor Balighur Rehman on Wednesday.—Online

LAHORE: The Punjab government on Wednesday found a solution to its standoff with assembly Speaker Parvez Elahi, who had linked the presentation of fiscal budget 2022-23 with an apology from the chief secretary (CS) and inspector general of police (IGP), by clipping his powers and placing the assembly under the law secretary.

Governor Balighur Rehman promulgated The Punjab Laws (Repealing and Removal of Difficulties) Ordinance 2022, curtailing the speaker’s powers and empowering the Punjab law and parliamentary affairs department to issue notifications regarding summoning or prorogation of the provincial assembly.

He summoned the PA’s 41st session — chaired by Deputy Speaker Dost Muhammad Mazari and attended only by lawmakers from the ruling coalition — at Aiwan-i-Iqbal Complex on Wednesday for the presentation of the province’s annual budget 2022-23, and supplementary budget for 2021-22.

The PML-N government presented the annual budget, supplementary budget for 2021-22, and fiscal risk statements for 2021-22 and 2022-23. At the session, the government also introduced the Punjab Finance Bill 2022 as well as amendments to the second schedule of the Punjab Sales Tax on Services Act 2012. The debate on the budget statements will commence on June 18 (Saturday) and continue until June 21. No MPA from the PTI and PML-Q attended this session.

PML-N-led govt presents annual budget at Aiwan-i-Iqbal session; Elahi chairs opposition session in assembly, claims governor’s ordinance nullified

Meanwhile, PA Speaker Parvez Elahi continued with the 40th session proceedings on the assembly premises on Wednesday and claimed to have nullified the governor’s ordinance through a unanimous resolution under Clause (1) of Article 128 of the Constitution. No MPA from the ruling coalition attended this session. The speaker said the house was an autonomous body and could not be given in subordination to the law department.

He said the session would do legislation against the clipping of powers of the speaker and assembly. Mr Elahi adjourned the session till 1pm on Thursday (today).

Governor Rehman had prorogued the 40th session of the assembly on Tuesday, as the standoff between the treasury and the speaker over calling of the CS and IGP persisted for two days, and the budget was not being presented for passage and subsequent debate.

In his order, the governor stated, “There is ample evidence and advice of the chief minister as per the opinion of the provincial cabinet that there was no likelihood of presentation and passage of the budget during the ongoing session besides imminent apprehension of unpleasant incidents in the assembly chamber.”

Through the ordinance, the governor also repealed three laws: the Punjab Secretariat Services Act 2019; and amendments to the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Act 2021.

The speaker had demanded the chief secretary and police chief be called to the assembly, made to listen to the speeches of the opposition members, who were tortured by the police and cases registered against them while they were holding a peaceful long march on Islamabad on May 25. The speaker also demanded that all the cases registered against the PTI MPAs and workers be withdrawn.

The PML-N government, however, remained adamant that neither the officers would be presented in the assembly nor would the cases registered against the PTI MPAs and workers be withdrawn.

During the session at the assembly, Dr Yasmin Rashid submitted a privilege motion against provincial minister Attaullah Tarar for making an obscene gesture. After a brief debate, the speaker referred the motion to the house’s privilege committee.

Later, speaking to the media on the assembly premises, Speaker Elahi said the Punjab Assembly was an institution and should not be destabilised. He chided the PML-N for raising slogans of “vote ko izzat do” while weakening the highest democratic institution through the governor. As per assembly rules of pro­cedure, Mr Elahi mainta­ined, only the speaker could prorogue a session. He said an “unconstitutional sess­ion” was organised outside the assembly building that pro­­ceeded without the atte­ndance of the assembly secretary and staff.

The deputy spe­aker had no powers to con­duct a session in the presence of the speaker, he claimed.

Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2022

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