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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday passed the constitutional amendment to Article 142 of the Constitution seeking to increase the scope of the subjects which fall within the concurrent list.

The committee which met with Senator Syed Ali Zafar in the chair passed the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (amendment in article 142) moved by Senator Farooq Hamid Naek with the dissenting note of Senator Kamran Murtaza.

The mover of the bill intends to enlarge the legislative competence of parliament under article 142 of the constitution by including the subject matters of the code of civil procedure, limitation, contract, arbitration, and family laws. Presently, these matters are within the legislative competence of provincial assemblies but to the extent of the federal capital are within the legislative competence of parliament.

The committee chairman explained that there were certain laws in which the federal parliament and provincial assemblies could pass the laws which were known as the concurrent list and included subjects such as criminal law and law of evidence.

However, he said that it was necessary to harmonise the laws in various sectors such as family law, arbitration, contract act, limitation, and civil procedure code, and accordingly these subjects may be included in the concurrent list, as well, so that both federal legislature and the provincial legislature could make laws on it.

The parliamentary body discussed the Constitution (Amendment) Act of 2022 seeking to allocate a women’s seat in the National Assembly from the federal capital introduced by Senator Fawzia Arshad in detail and passed it.

According to the statement of objects and reasons, Article 1(2-b) of the Constitution declares Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) as a separate entity from the provinces, so as a separate territory, there must be women representation from this territory from both the house of parliament. The parliament comprises the Senate and National Assembly. The Senate has allocated a seat, but at the same time, National Assembly has not reserved any seat for women from the capital city.

Azam Nazeer Tarar, Minister for Law and Justice said that government has no objection to the bill and there is also the direction of the Supreme Court to give representation to women. The government has also laid a bill in the National Assembly regarding the matter and the parliament has forward it to the relevant standing committee after passing it, he said.

The committee also passed a bill seeking to increase women’s participation in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) moved by Senator Rukhsana Zuberi with some amendments.

Senator Ali Zafar stated that he believes in the phrase that half the universe is held up by women and there should therefore be equal representation of women ultimately in all sectors of life and such a policy should be immediately implemented in at least those institutions where there is sufficient expertise of women.

The original proposal was to increase the strength of existing ECP from four to eight with equal representation of men and women. It was decided by a majority that the total number of members shall remain four; however, two of them would be women and that each province would nominate alternatively a man and a woman member so that at all times there would be equal representation.

About the matter regarding circuit benches of Balochistan High Court raised by Senator Sardar Muhammad Shafique Tareen, the committee observed that although provinces of Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, and Sindh had permanent benches of high courts in various cities as specified in the constitution but there were no benches operating in Balochistan.

The chairman committee said that since the benches in Balochistan had been specified in the constitution, it was the constitutional duty of the government and a matter of enforcement of fundamental rights that those benches should be made operational. The committee showed its serious concern and it unanimously agreed to request and to write to the chief justice of Balochistan High Court, as well as, the governor and the chief minister of the province in this regard and apprised them of the concerns of the committee.

The meeting was also attended by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, Farooq Hamid Naek, Mian Raza Rabbani, Kamran Murtaza, and officials of the Ministry Law and Justice.

Meanwhile, National Assembly Standing Committee on Law and Justice discussed, “Control of Narcotics Substances (Amendment) Bill, 2022” in detail. After detailed deliberation, the committee recommended that the bill as amended by the committee may be passed by the assembly.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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