ISLAMABAD - Chairman Senate Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani on Monday urged the Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar to allow him using the chamber of the Lower House of Parliament for Senate session in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak.
In a letter written to the Speaker NA, he said that the Senate has to assume its Constitutional role while following health advisories of keeping minimum physical distancing among the lawmakers of the 104-member House to prevent further spread of deadly disease.
He argued that Senate chamber which is smaller in its size, due to having low number of lawmakers of Upper House as compared to the National Assembly, does not allow adopting physical distancing among the members. He was of the view that the chamber for the 342-member National Assembly is bigger than the Senate’s and can provide maximum physical distancing among the Senators.
“In order to successfully preserve the operation of Parliament during a time of global pandemic whereby the key functions of the Parliament as key legislative body are arguably most needed, it is crucial that appropriate, proportionate and reasonable measures be taken to facilitate this,” the letter stated.
Chairman Senate said that globally Parliaments have adopted mitigation and adaptation strategies to facilitate effective working of the Parliaments.
“The Senate chamber, given the number of its members, does not allow adopting any physical distancing measures for holding session.”
He mentioned that Parliamentary practices exist wherein the chamber of Senate was used by National Assembly for holding its sessions as fire eruption had destroyed the latter’s chamber in 1993.
He said that those were extra ordinary circumstances and today again there are unusual conditions wherein one House of Parliament cannot hold session in its chamber.
Sanjrani pointed out that the virus has caused serious threat to human health, and its devastating effects on the normal functioning of societies, democracies and fundamental rights and freedoms, as well as the world economy are unavoidable.
He, however, added that pandemic has created unique challenges for legislatures across the world, forcing emergency provisions in parliamentary procedures, innovative techniques for connecting with citizenry and legislative actions on urgent relief packages for communities in need.
“I am certain that together we will be successful in taking measures to protect the citizenry and fight this pandemic effectively,” Sanjrani writes to Qaisar in his letter.