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NA amends rules of procedure: Mandatory production of held MNA allowed

Our Correspondent
Friday, Oct 21, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on Thursday adopted amendments in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the National Assembly to make mandatory production of an MNA under protective custody or facing trial in any court, during a session of the House or attend meetings of standing committees.

The Speaker was authorised, according to the amendment, to declare Parliament Lodges or any suitable place in Islamabad as a sub-jail for the MNA, who is to be produced in the National Assembly during a session.

The amendment in Rule 108 allows the speaker or chairman of a committee to summon a member in custody for a non-bailable offence to attend a sitting or sittings of the Assembly or committee meeting of a committee of which he is a member. The House, while adopting the amendment, replaced the word ‘may summon’ with ‘shall summon’ and omitted the words ‘if considers so’.

The significant development took place when the House took up amendments in Rules 103 and 106 about the arrest of any MNA. While raising the issue, Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said the production of any arrested MNA should also be made mandatory and the same amendment should be adopted along with two other amendments in the rules. Quoting past examples, the minister said previously an arrested MNA would not be produced in the House despite their requests.

Other parliamentarians, including Chaudhry Birjees Tahir, Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali, Shazia Marri and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi, himself did not oppose the amendments. Maulana Chitrali protested that MNA Ali Wazir was not being produced in House despite his requests.

According to the amendment in Rule 103, when a member has to be arrested on a criminal charge or for a criminal offence or has to be detained under an executive order, the committing judge, magistrate or executive authority, as the case may be, shall immediately seek approval of the speaker indicating the reasons for the arrest or detention, as the case may be, and after such arrest, detention or when a member is sentenced to imprisonment by a court of law, the committing judge, magistrate or executive authority, as the case may be, shall intimate the place of detention or imprisonment of the member in the appropriate form set out in the Fourth Schedule. Another amendment in Rule 106 bars arresting any MNA from within the assembly precincts.

Meanwhile, responding to a calling attention notice, Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman said a national adaptation plan was being prepared for building resilience to climate change. She said the Sindh province has given its climate change policy and other provinces should follow suit. Sherry said Pakistan is seeking climate justice from the world community to cope with the challenge posed by the recent devastating floods.

The Minister for Poverty Alleviation, Shahzia Marri, said the government was moving in the right direction to address the woes of flood-affected people. She said it is a national catastrophe and there should be no politics on the relief and rehabilitation of flood-affected population. She said the prime minister has directed the Minister for Power to visit the flood-affected areas of Sindh to address the electricity supply problems. Marri said a dynamic registry will be prepared to include more deserving families in the Benazir Income Support Program. She said out of Rs 70 bn, Rs66.22 billion have been disbursed amongst the flood-affected families across the country.

The House also resolved to continue efforts for a better future of Pakistan by placing children at the centre of development and recognising their individuality. It was moved by Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, who also congratulated on the formation of an All-parties Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights. The caucus is an invaluable forum that will help in advancing, protecting and uplifting the children besides eliminating all forms of violence and abuse against them.