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ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly Tuesday passed four private members’ bills moved by lawmakers from four different mainstream political parties — two each from treasury and opposition.

As the National Assembly sitting presided over by Speaker Asad Qaiser, the House passed The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2020, moved by Syed Agha Rafiullah from Pakistan Peoples Party; The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill 2020, moved by Kishwar Zehra from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P); The Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill 2020, moved by Mehnaz Akbar Aziz from Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and The Pakistan Psychological Council Bill 2019, moved by Riaz Fatyana from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The statement of objects and reasons of The Regulation of Generation, Transmission and Distribution of Electric Power (Amendment) Bill 2020 reads, “It has come to knowledge that electricity distribution companies also disconnect electricity connection of those consumers who pay bills regularly. However, their neighbours or the people of that locality (Mohalla) do not pay bills. This is injustice to those who pay bills regularly and they are punished for the crime committed by others. Distribution companies have failed to evolve a mechanism in this regard. So, this bill is need of the hour.”

According to objects and reasons statement of The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues (Amendment) Bill 2020, “There are so many incidental deaths while driving motor vehicles. During such deaths human bodies is mutilated or damaged in such from that sanctity of human corpse like natural death is not possible and even routine rituals are not performed. However, lost of human organs or tissues are still active even after clinical death and some of such human organs or tissues may be transplanted to persons in need of such organs of tissues. Such donation may give a new lease of life to person in need of such human organs or tissues. Therefore, there is a need to make a provision to donate human organs or tissues in case of accidental death. This bill will achieve the above aims and objects.”

The statement of objects and reasons of The Islamabad Capital Territory Domestic Workers Bill 2020 reads, “The Bill aims at providing legal cover for regulating the employment of domestic workers in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) and protecting their rights. It also envisages for improving working conditions and terms of employment of domestic workers. Bill contains provisions for their protection and welfare, including working hours, minimum wages, the entitlement of leaves, safety and medical care etc.”

According to objects and reasons statement of The Pakistan Psychological Council Bill 2019, “This bill is to provide a framework to regularize the field of mental health and psychological services in Pakistan and to achieve the national and international goals by supporting professionals in the disciplines of psychology for the sustainable development of the country on Islamic ideology and integrating academic, research information. Moreover, this legislation is for providing a code of conduct for the professional and to reduce psychological stress and other mental ailments in the society by organizing and participating in national, regional and international workshops, seminars and conferences. The Bill seeks to achieve the foresaid objectives.”

At the National Assembly sitting, Dr Nafisa Shah from PPP moved The Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari strongly opposed this bill saying the bill was simply a plagiarized version of government’s The Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021. Dr Mazari was scheduled to move the same bill in National Assembly earlier on Monday but the House’s routine business was suspended to discuss Israel’s continued aggression against Palestinians.

However, Shah denied that the bill was a plagiarized version of the government’s bill saying her bill was first moved in 2012 and then in 2015.

Marriyum Aurangzeb from PML-N also said that that the bill was first moved in National Assembly in 2012 and then again in 2015.

Putting his weight behind the government’s Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill 2021, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan urged Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser to review both the bills and decide which one to take up. “Mr. Speaker, just have a look at both the drafts and you’ll get an idea which one is better,” he said.

The speaker responded that he would review both the bills and make a decision in this regard, before deferring the matter.

Later, speaking to Business Recorder, Human Rights Minister Dr Mazari said the government would push to get the bill sailed through National Assembly in Friday’s session.

“This is a significant bill that aims at protecting the rights of journalists and media professionals against threats and insecurities the media persons face in the line of their duty. We would make sure this bill get Parliament’s nod,” she said.

The National Assembly will meet again on Friday at 11am.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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