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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly, following the procedure laid down in the 18th Constitutional Amendment, once again approved, amid uproar and protest from the opposition members, "The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020" and "The United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill, 2020" on the same day (Thursday) as passed by the Senate with minor amendments to fulfill certain conditions as listed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The National Assembly on Wednesday had passed these two bills critical for Pakistan's compliance with the FATF requirements to move the country from the "grey list" to the "white list".

The Lower House of the Parliament approved the bills, clause by clause, just in five to eight minutes amid uproar from the opposition parties as presented by the Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs, Babar Awan.

The government had not included these two bills in the routine business agenda of the house but placed a separate special business agenda for the passage of the bills.

After passage of the bills on Wednesday, the National Assembly Secretariat referred them to the Senate for approval.

The Senate passed these bills with some minor amendments and sent it back to the National Assembly for consideration.

Now, it was up to the National Assembly, as per procedure laid down in the 18th Constitution Amendment to approve the bills with the same amendments or if it rejects them then the bills would have to be tabled in the joint-sitting of the parliament for passage with a majority vote.

According to Article 70 of sub-section (2) and (3) of the Constitution: "(2) If a Bill transmitted to a House under clause (1) is passed with amendments it shall be sent back to the House in which it originated and if that House passes the Bill with those amendments it shall be presented to the President for assent."

"(3) If a Bill transmitted to a House under clause (1) is rejected or is not passed within ninety days of its laying in the House or a Bill sent to a House under clause (2) with amendments is not passed by that House with such amendments, the Bill, at the request of the House in which it originated, shall be considered in a joint sitting and if passed by the votes of the majority of the members present and voting in the joint sitting it shall be presented to the President for assent."

The National Assembly did not reject the amendments made by the Senate in the two bills, and approved them with a majority.

The Senate amended, "The Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020" by inserting some words such as "or body corporate" in sub-clause (a) of clause 2 and in sub-clause (3) of clause 4 of the bill, and added a sentence, "For the purposes of carrying out the mandate of the said Act with respect to cooperation and information sharing at all levels, especially for countering the financing of terrorism, the definition of the term "person" is being introduced", in the Statement of the Objects and Reasons of the bill.

The Senate replace sub-clause (a) of clause 3 of the bill by remaining same meaning, and fine and punishment.

According to it, "Any natural person not connected with a legal person or body corporate, who violates any provision of sub-section (1) shall be liable, on conviction to a term not exceeding 10 years or with fine not exceeding 25 million rupees or with both."

The Senate inserted words, "to a Pakistani person, entity or authority" in clause 5 of "The United Nations (Security Council) (Amendment) Bill, 2020."

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020