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LAHORE: The Punjab government has slashed powers of Speaker of provincial assembly through an ordinance promulgated by Punjab Governor Balighur Rehman declaring that whenever the Punjab Assembly session is prorogued, the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Department shall issue notifications regarding summoning or prorogation of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab.

The ordinance titled ‘the Punjab Laws (Repealing and Removal of Difficulties) Ordinance 2022’ was issued by the Governor in exercise of powers conferred under clause (1) of Article 128 of Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Through the ordinance, the laws titled the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Secretariat Services Act 2019 (IX of 2019), the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Act 2021 (XXI of 2021); and the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Act 2021 (XXVI of 2021) also stand repealed.

Through the Ordinance, the government has abolished the independent status of the Punjab Assembly bringing it under the domain of law department. Moreover, the services of Punjab Assembly Secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti, who was serving there since 2008, were placed at the disposal of law department, sources said.

Speaker says PML-N does not enjoy majority

Punjab government spokesman Ataullah Tarar told media that now the Punjab Assembly speaker had been stripped off his powers to punish civil bureaucrats. From now onwards, no journalist could either be barred from entering the assembly’s building or punished, he said. “They don’t want the people of Punjab to suffer; hence, the session had been convened outside the Punjab Assembly.”

Tarar said the government has repealed three laws through issuance of an ordinance. He regretted that the PTI had linked holding of the assembly’s budget session with the withdrawal of cases registered against them. He said he has invited Speaker Pervaiz Elahi to come to the Aiwan-e-Iqbal and chair the session called by the Governor.

Speaking on the occasion, Malik Ahmed Khan held PA Speaker Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi’s ego responsible for delays in the start of the budget session. He said “presentation of budget is constitutional requirement; hence, we fulfilled our constitutional obligation.” He regretted that mockery of law was made just for vested political interest. To a query, he said the Governor has powers to call the assembly session anywhere.

On the other hand, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain said on Wednesday it appeared that the Punjab government had convened the provincial assembly’s budget session at Aiwan-e-Iqbal only to curtail the assembly’s powers.

He urged members of the Punjab Assembly to attend the session which was being held inside the assembly’s building in order to assert their authority. Today, the country’s politics have become the monopoly of jugglers,” he said. “I am afraid they will end up making fun of the country in the process.”

Moreover, Punjab CM Hamza Shehbaz, while chairing a meeting of the provincial parliamentary party of PML-N and allies ahead of budget session at Aiwan-e-Iqbal, said that some egoists had created a crisis over the last three months.

He said the budget could not be presented during the last three days as the opposition and the Speaker hatched a ploy but they had been exposed before the people. In the provincial budget, relief would be given to the people and the journey of service to the people would continue with humility, he said. “We would continue to work day and night to heal the wounds of the people,” he said. “The government was standing with the guardians of the constitution and the law. If these officers had not performed their duties, the province would have become a banana republic.”

“During the election of chief minister, the uniform officers were kicked and punched and everyone knows how the thugs in the House were clinging to the deputy speaker,” he said.

Provincial Law Minister Malik Mohammad Ahmad Khan said that every possible effort was made for reconciliation and the budget was put on hold due to childish moves. The governor holds the constitutional and legal authority to decide the time and place of the meeting, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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