LAHORE: The constitutional crisis related to holding of the Punjab Assembly session is deepening with every passing day, as the panel of chairmen on Sunday directed four senior assembly secretariat officers to immediately report at Aiwan-i-Iqbal, where the budget session has been under way since June 14.

“Special Secretary Ali Imran Rizvi, Chief Security Officer Akbar Nasir, Chief Reporter Umar Daraz and Director Estate Asim Cheema must immediately report at the Aiwan-i-Iqbal, where constitutional session of the Punjab Assembly is going on and reporting there is their legal responsibility,” directed Khalil Tahir Sindhu, one of the four members of the panel of chairmen.

“In case of non-compliance, you would be dealt with in accordance with law,” warned Mr Sindhu, who presides over the session in the absence of speaker and deputy speakers.

He also told the participants of the session that the assembly officers had given the assurance that they would attend to their duties on Monday (today).

Amer Habib, the special secretary working as acting assembly secretary on the directive of the high-ups of Punjab law department, which under an ordinance promulgated by the governor had withdrawn powers of the assembly secretary in administrative affairs, had issued similar directives to the heads of legislation, reporting, estate and security wings of the assembly to report at Aiwan-i-Iqbal on Saturday, but the officers concerned reportedly declined to comply with the orders.

However, assembly secretary Mohammad Khan Bhatti, handpicked for the job by Speaker Parvez Elahi, said the fresh orders carried no legal weight in the presence of the speaker.

The crisis on holding the assembly session began when Speaker Elahi for two days did not ask the treasury to present the provincial budget in the 40th session of the house, demanding that the cases registered against the PTI leaders during the May 25 long march be withdrawn first.

On the night of the second day when all government efforts failed to reach an understanding with the speaker and opposition PTI leadership, Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman issued orders for proroguing the session, promulgated an ordinance withdrawing certain powers of the speaker and assembly secretary, and summoned a new session at Aiwan-i-Iqbal instead of the assembly chambers to present the provincial budget next day.

Published in Dawn, June 20th, 2022

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