LAHORE - The passage of resolutions by Punjab Assembly on matters of public interest seems to be an exercise in futility; as hardly a few of them are implemented by the government.
Interestingly, the Assembly Secretariat does not keep record of even those resolutions which the government considers worthy of consideration and takes action accordingly.
The Provincial Assembly adopted 161 resolutions, including the one on the most important issue of Kalabagh Dam, during the last four-and-half years. According to the data available with the Assembly Secretariat, the lawmakers sent as many as 2,945 notices of various resolutions during the said period; out of which, 1,679 were admitted for adoption. Only 161 were passed by the Assembly, as 1,247 were disallowed by the speaker while 1,539 were rejected by the House.
“While no precise information regarding their fate is available in the Punjab Assembly, but it can be said with confidence that the number of resolutions implemented by the government would not exceed the single digit,” said an Assembly official who requested anonymity.
However, a recent one on creation of two provinces in south Punjab is in the process of implementation as the Speaker National Assembly has sought names of parliamentarians from Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly and Speaker Punjab Assembly to form the parliamentary commission as demanded in the resolution.
Another Assembly official when contacted said that they did not keep record of the resolutions except those passed by the Assembly. “Neither we keep track of the resolutions passed, nor do the federal or provincial governments ever bother to inform us about their implementation status,” said Punjab Assembly’s Public Relations Officer, Abdul Qahhar Rashid while talking to TheNation.
When asked about the reason for such a treatment meted out to the Assembly resolutions, he said, “This was so because they are not legally binding on the government”. A resolution, he added, was merely an expression of will of the House which is not binding on the government or any of its departments.
The rule 116 of the Assembly’s rules of procedure defines a resolution as under: “A resolution may be in the form of a declaration of opinion or a recommendation, or convey a message, or commend, urge or request an action, or call attention to a matter or situation for consideration by the Government, or in such other form as the Speaker may consider appropriate”.
It is very much clear by the very definition of the resolution that it is of a recommendatory nature without any legal binding.
The legal status of the resolutions gives rise to questions on futility of the whole exercise which consumes considerable time of the House; as the matter is first debated before it is put to vote by the Speaker.
It merits mentioning here that during each assembly session, one day is exclusively meant for adoption of resolutions and introduction of bills by members in their personal capacity. No official business is taken up by the assembly on that day, called ‘the Private Members’ Day’. One of the sections in the legislative branch of the Assembly deals with resolutions and their scrutiny.
Before a resolution is formally taken by the assembly, the mover has to undergo a very tedious procedure. According to the rules and procedures of the Punjab Assembly, “A private member who wishes to move a resolution shall give seven days’ notice and shall submit together with the notice a copy of the resolution which he intends to move”. In respect of a minister, it has been stated in the rules that he shall give three days’ notice and shall submit together with the notice a copy of the resolution which he intends to move. Also, there are other formalities which must be fulfilled before submitting a resolution in the Assembly Secretariat. “A resolution shall relate to a matter which is primarily the concern of the Government or to a matter in which the Government has substantial financial interest,” say the rules.
After all this laborious exercise, it is not sure if the resolution would be implemented.