ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf on Wednes­day again put off the joint sitting of parliament scheduled to be held on August 22 (Monday) for a month.

The joint sitting of the two houses of the parliam­ent will now be held on Sept 22, according to an official announcement of the Nat­ional Assembly Secretariat.

This is for the second time that the speaker has done so without giving any reason.

The official notification in this regard says the speaker has delayed the joint sitting exercising his “powers conferred by proviso to Rule 4 of the Parliament (Joint Sittings) Rules 1973”.

The said rule states: “The speaker shall determine when a joint sitting shall be adjourned sine die or to a particular day, or to an hour of the same day: provided that the speaker may, if he thinks fit, call a joint sitting before the date or time to which it has been adjourned or at any time after the joint sitting has been adjourned sine die.”

The last joint sitting of the parliament was held on June 9 in which the government had managed to get passed “controversial” electoral reforms and the accountability laws after President Dr Arif Alvi refused to give his assent to both laws despite their passage by the National Assembly and the Senate.

The amendments to the Elections Act, 2017, sought to bar the use of electronic voting machines in the next general elections and those to the National Accountability Bureau (Amendment) Act were aimed at preventing the misuse of law for political engineering and victimisation of political opponents.

The bills had been forwarded to the president for his assent after their passage from the upper and lower houses, but President Alvi sent them back to parliament for reconsideration. The bills were presented to the president again, but he refused to sign them. Subsequently, the bills became an act of parliament after 10 days as per Article 75 of the Constitution.

After accomplishing the task, instead of proroguing the joint sitting, the speaker had announced adjournment till July 20 as the government had intended to get some more bills passed in the joint sitting which had lapsed after their passage from one house of parliament.

However, on July 18, the speaker put off the joint sitting till August 22 giving no reason for his act.

The present National Assembly, which has come into existence as a result of the July 25, 2018, general elections, has already entered its last parliamentary year after completing its four-year term on August 12.

During the fourth parliamentary year, the lower house of the parliament passed some 55 bills, taking the total number of bills passed by the present assembly to 155.

The statistics available on the official website of the National Assembly shows that the lower house of the parliament had approved 60 bills during its third parliamentary year, 30 in the second parliamentary year and only 10 during the first parliamentary year.

Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2022

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