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ISLAMABAD: In an unprecedented move, the dysfunctional Upper House of the Parliament goes to by-elections on Thursday (tomorrow) on six of its seats —without a chairman, deputy chairman, leader of the house and leader of the opposition in place.

By-elections are scheduled on three seats of Balochistan, two seats of Sindh and one seat of Islamabad.

Although, these elections are constitutionally organised and supervised by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), with Special Secretary ECP Zafar Iqbal Hussain been appointed as Returning Officer (RO) of the by-polls, these elections are being held with 52 senators already retired on Monday, following the completion of their term, including Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani, Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Leader of the House Ishaq Dar and Leader of the Opposition Dr Shahzad Waseem.

Sanjrani had quit Senate even before his retirement following his election to Balochistan Assembly.

This scenario indicates that after March 14 by-polls, the returned candidates on the six seats would not be able to take oath till new chairman and deputy chairman Senate are in place after April 2 Senate polls that are taking place on 48 seats. This implies, till April 2 elections, Senate would remain dysfunctional.

Last week, the Senate Secretariat reportedly discussed with parliamentary political parties a proposal to extend the tenure of Sanjrani, the then Chairman Senate, till his successor was in place.

However, this proposal was not materialised due to political opposition, it is learnt.

Reportedly, Senate Secretariat proposed to include a provision in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012 to extend the tenure of the outgoing chairman Senate till his successor was at the helm — on the same pattern the speaker National Assembly remains in charge till their successor takes over.

The Article 67(1) of the Constitution of Pakistan empowers a House to make rules for regulating its procedure and the conduct of its business.

Unlike the chairman Senate, the speaker NA is constitutionally mandated to continue with their official responsibilities till their successor takes charge.

Article 53(8) provides that when the NA is dissolved, the speaker shall continue in office till the person elected to fill the office by the next Assembly is at the helm.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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