LAHORE    -   Thanks to the unchecked powers of the Assembly speaker, the 41st session of the Punjab Assembly which started on June 15 continues till date for the last 85 days at the cost of public exchequer.

It is unprecedented in Punjab Assembly’s history that a session called on the requisition of the Op­position has not come to an end even after 85 days. The Assembly will resume its next sitting on Wednes­day (today) after a break of six days. According to the rules, only the assem­bly speaker can prorogue a session called by him on the requisition of one-fourth members of the Assembly. One sitting of the assem­bly costs the exchequer around Rs10 million which includes TA/DA and other allowances paid to the as­sembly members and the special allowance admis­sible to the assembly em­ployees from a peon to the speaker. Strangely enough, the assembly is considered to be in session even during the days it is not meeting due to frequent adjourn­ments by the speaker.

Till date, the Punjab As­sembly has been in ses­sion for 85 days while the number of actual sittings comes to 22 days only. But the rules allow the As­sembly employees and the MPAs to get payments even for the off days. In the last two and half months, the speaker or the presiding chairman would adjourn the sitting for a week or so after a few sittings.

Starting from June 15, the Assembly saw several adjournments ranging from two to 14 days. The longest adjournment was of 14 days as no sitting of the Assembly took place from August 1 to August 14, but these days were counted for making pay­ments to the assembly em­ployees and the members. Likewise, there was no as­sembly sitting from July 7 to July 17. It is apart from comparatively other small breaks of four to six days in between the actual sit­tings since June 15.

A concerned official in the Punjab Assembly dealing with TA/ DA of the mem­bers told The Nation that members don’t get paid if the session is adjourned for more than two days. He, however, confirmed that as­sembly employees do get paid special allowance dur­ing the continuous off days of any duration. Two PML-N MPAs, Tahir Khalil Sindhu and Arshad Malik claimed that they were getting pay­ments for the continuous off days spreading over one week also. Tahir Sindhu said that the PTI government was unnecessarily dragging the 41st session without any justification. He said he would raise voice in the As­sembly on this issue.

When contacted to know the reason for an excep­tionally prolonged session, the assembly spokesper­son failed to come up with any plausible reason. It may be recalled here that the then opposition led by the PTI had requisitioned the current session on June 14 which was called by the speaker on the very next day. Earlier, the then Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi had blocked presentation of the provincial budget before the Assembly. He had set a condition for presentation of the bud­get that the chief secretary and the IGP should come to the assembly first for grilling by the members for their role in May 25 in­cidents and the Assembly ruckus on April 14.