Assemblies’ rules of procedure: CPDI demands thorough review
Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) has demanded a thorough review of rules of procedures to make it in line with the democratic traditions. The rules of procedures of Pakistani assemblies, including the Punjab Assembly, are part of Common Law originating primarily in the practice of House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Whereas UK assemblies have introduced some revolutionary changes in the working of the House and many commonwealth countries have followed it; Pakistani assemblies are still lagging behind in term of efficiency, accountability and transparency. For example, an MP can expect answer to question submitted in House of Common within 2 days; his counterpart in the Punjab Assembly has to wait for 12 months and in some case for 24 months to get answer of the submitted questions. Similar observations can be made for general discussion, working hours, number of working days, budget sessions, quorum, and attendance of the MPAs and legislation process.
It was said by Syed Kausar Abbas, Program Manager of Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) while addressing press conference on proposed amendments on Tuesday. The attendance of the MPAs in the assembly session has long been the classified information. With strong Right to Information legislation
in the province, it has at last become possible to get such information. However, there are still some issues attached with the transparency. Whereas the average attendance of the assembly, as shown on its website, is 180, the independent sources have not confirmed it. CPDI has suggested installing biometrics system at the gates of the assembly hall to take the attendance of the MPAs, Kausar Abbas said.
CPDI has also proposed electing one speaker and two Deputy Speakers at the first sitting of the assembly after the gener- al election. One speaker should be from government side and the other one from opposition. The deputy speakers from opposition should be ready to take the chair if speakers and deputy speakers from government side are absent. In this way, there will be a constant pressure on the government that in case of absence, opposition will get the chance to preside the session.
Rule 24 of rules of procedure clearly says that meeting time of the assembly is 9am to 2pm but this timing is seldom observed. The average meeting time per sitting is not more than 2.5 hours. There are also serious issues of punctuality attached to our assemblies. Due to this, it very common that all agenda item on order of the day cannot be taken up. CPDI has also suggested increasing the working hours from 9am to 5pm. It will give sufficient time on the disposal of speaker to complete the agenda. At the same time, it is also suggested to increase the quorum of the house from 25% to 50% to make it truly representative.