The joint-session of the Parliament Thursday passed the bills to amend the National Accountability Ordinance 1999 and the Elections Act 2017.
The bills - Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2022 – were presented in the session after President Arif Alvi returned them to last week for “reconsideration.”
The session started with Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in the chair. Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarrar presented the bills, which were passed by a majority. The changes proposed by the president were also rejected.
Ghous Bux Khan Mahar of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) requested the government to send the president’s recommendations to the relevant subcommittee of the house for further discussion. However, the law minister rejected the advice, saying that no such provision exist in the constitution.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said the two bills were passed from both the houses after extensive debates.
He reminded the GDA leader that during the PTI government – in which his party was an ally – more than three dozens of bills were bulldozed through the session without permitting any debate.
During the session, Jamaate-e-Islami’s Senator Mushtaq Ahmed requested permission to table amendments to the bill. However, Pakistan Peoples Party’s Senator Farooq Naiq objected to it, saying that the JI leader should have presented the amendments while the bills were debated in the two houses.
The bills have already been passed by the National Assembly and Senate, he added.
The bills passed during the session will be, once again, sent to the president for approval. However, if he refuses to sign them, they would automatically become laws after 10 days.
President returns the bills
Last week, President Alvi returned the legislations, without giving his assent, according to a press release issued by the Presidency. The bills were sent to the president after they were passed by the two houses.
The National Accountability (Second Amendment) Bill, 2021 was passed by the National Assembly on May 26 to amend the NAB Ordinance. With the amendments, the government took away the Bureau’s 90-day detention power and the authority to probe decisions taken by federal and provincial cabinets.
The president observed that the law was passed in violation with the Article 46 of the Constitution, which mandates the prime minister to keep the president informed of, among other things, all the proposed legislation the government intends to table in the Parliament.
“The legislation having far-reaching impact on the society should have been discussed in details in consultation with the legal fraternity and civil society,” he added.
Both laws passed by the Parliament have been reverted to the relevant committees for reconsideration.