ISLAMABAD - The treasury and opposition parties are set to separately introduce legislation in favour and against the clause related to the production order, which permits arrested members of the House to attend the proceedings.

The lawmakers from both sides might move their separate bills in upcoming National Assembly session, scheduled to sit on Monday.

Background discussions with government and opposition lawmakers revealed that both sides could not develop consensus to amend the rules on production order so separate bills might be moved in the House.

Talking to The Nation, PPP-P’s Nafeesa Shah said that she was working on a bill to change the rules and procedure of the production order. “Arrested member should be allowed legally to attend all the proceedings,” said the PPP-P MNA.

She said, “The opposition will strongly oppose the move being proposed by the government to change rules and procedure of the production order”.

No progress on several bills due to fewer meetings of NA bodies

On the other hand, the government has also started working to block the permission for arrested MNAs to attend the proceedings of the National Assembly and those of the standing committees.

The government may move this amendment in the Standing Committee of Law and Justice. The standing committee on law and justice comprises of 20 members including two senior members from PML-N Rana Sanaullah and Khawaja Saad Rafique, who are in the custody of law-enforcement agencies.

Sources said that the government soon after introducing the bill will call the parliamentary committee to initiate discussion on proposed amendment. On the other hands, the opposition parties would request the Chairman of the Committee to also invite senior members currently in the meeting.

Political observers viewed that the government with majority of votes might easily defeat opposition in passing its amendment in the rules and procedures.

Meanwhile, legislative business in the Parliament, especially progress on bills proposed by opposition members, is suffering since the last couple of months due to limited working of standing committees of the National Assembly.

Some of the National Assembly standing committees, due to sudden declaration of the speaker to hold meetings only during the NA session, do not meet frequently to discuss the proposed bills.

The bills and motions introduced in the lower house of the Parliament, according to the rules and procedures, are referred to the concerned committees to discuss and shape the same with the input of the members from the government and opposition benches. These bills are again sent to the National Assembly.

The National Assembly has 130 working days in a parliamentary year, in which, it is causing difficulty for opposition members to debate and vet its bills in the standing committees.

According to the announcement from the National Assembly Secretariat, issued on 8th July, the speaker, citing austerity measures had directed to hold standing committee only during the session of national assembly.

The opposition parties, in an immediate response, termed the directives from the chair to block the way of arrested MNAs to attend the proceedings of the standing committees.

The rules allow the arrested MNA, who is member of the standing committee, to attend the proceedings of the standing committee on production order. The government members claimed that the speaker has given permission to hold important committees.

When contacted, PML-N’s senior member Ahsan Iqbal said that the legislative business had never been the priority of the incumbent government. “Proper discussion on dozens of bills has not been held during the last some months,” he said, adding that without legislative business, the National Assembly had no value. He said that the standing committees were formed after six months due to lack of interest of the government.

Talking to The Nation, PPP-P’s central information secretary Dr Nafeesa Shah said that the unprecedented speaker’s directive to suspend the standing committees was unconstitutional. “Limiting the standing committees only during the National Assembly session is badly hampering the legislative business, as there is long list of pending bills,” she said.

PPP-P’s MNA said that there was many other ways to adopt austerity measures, as the proceedings of the standing committees were much important for legislation.

She said the National Assembly Speaker should allow holding at least important standing committees’ meetings other than the days of National Assembly session. “The legislative business will further suffer if the standing committees do not perform their work regularly,” PPP-P’s MNA said.

The legislative business, opposition members claimed, after limiting the parliamentary bodies’ meeting is comparatively much slow.

Political observers viewed that the speaker might not take back his decision of allowing the National Assembly standing committees’ meeting. However, he will allow holding important committee’s meeting.