Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice in its meeting on Monday discussed five Constitution (Amendment) Bills calling for amendments in Articles (51 & 106), (213 & 215), (253A), (45) of the Constitution.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Senators Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Kalsoom Parveen, Muhammad Usman Kakar, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Abida Muhammad Azeem, Ghous Muhammad Niazi, Anwar Lal Deen, Sajjad Hussain Turi, Siraj ul Haq, Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, Naseebullah Bazai, Zeeshan Khanzada, Sana Jamali, Secretary Law, Chairman CII and officials from relevant departments.
The Committee while discussing The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019 (Amendment of Article 51 & 106) heard the movers of the bill as well as the members of the Committee. The Committee members of the view were of the considered view that amendment in Article 51 relates with changes in the composition of the National Assembly that would involve changes with other provincial representation as well and is also conditional with publication of census results. The Amendment of Article 106 calling for increasing seats of Balochistan Assembly from 65 to 80 was approved by the Committee. However, the Committee members stressed upon the need for having a working as to how the seats have to be reallocated. The Committee recommended that the increase in seats should be done according to the same formula as is currently in place by Election Commission of Pakistan.
The Committee while discussing The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (Amendment of Article 213 & 215) moved by Senator Lt. Gen. (R) Abdul Qayyum calling for referring the matter of appointment of Chief Election Commissioner to the Supreme Court in case the Parliamentary committee is unable to finalise any name (Article 213). The Committee did not approve of bringing another body into decisions that have to be done by the Parliament and a mechanism should come from within the parliament. The amendment in Article 215 was agreed to in principle. The bill will further deliberate on the bill in next meeting. The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (Amendment of Article 213) moved by Senator Siraj ul Haq was clubbed with this bill.
Regarding The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (Amendment of Article 45) moved by Senator Siraj ul Haq calling for a provision that the President would not exercise this power in cases of punishments awarded under Hudood or Qisas, the Committee heard the mover, members, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology, professors from Shariah and Law faculty International Islamic University. The Government opposed the bill observing that the president’s power is not just for pardon but also of respite and reviewing other sensitivities. Five members voted in favour of the bill and 2 opposed the bill and the bill was approved.
Regarding The Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 (Amendment of Article 253A) moved by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed calling for a provision that a person who is not a citizen of Pakistan shall not be entitled, to own or purchase immovable property in Pakistan. Majority of the members of the Committee were of the view that there should be no bar on foreign citizens purchasing land in the country after fulfilling al the formalities. It was also pointed out that the matter is of a nature on which a bill can be introduced if needed and doesn’t need to be a Constitutional Amendment. The Committee, for the satisfaction of the mover decided to take record of any land purchases made by foreigners in last five years and the procedures followed.