The delay in convening of the National Assembly session has started to affect the legislative work as at least five important bills passed by the Senate have lapsed due to failure of the government to get them approved by the lower house of parliament within 90 days.
The Senate is set to take up on Monday the issue of sending to a joint sitting of parliament three bills it had passed in March but which could not be passed by the National Assembly within the stipulated period.
Under the Senate’s rules of business, a member may move that a bill of this nature should be referred to a joint session of parliament as provided in the Constitution. The bills that have lapsed are Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015; the Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill 2015; the Privatisation Commission (Second Amendment) Bill 2015; the Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Rape (Prevention and Punishment) Bill 2015 and the Gas Theft Control and Recovery Bill 2014. The Senate Secretariat has already notified that the five bills have lapsed. The first four bills were moved by Sughra Imam and Farhatullah Babar of the PPP as private members’ bills and all of them were adopted by the Senate after their passage through the standing committees concerned.
Ms Imam retired in March after completing her six-year term as senator. Interestingly, the bill about gas theft and recovery was the government’s own bill which it could not get the parliament to adopt. The Senate is also set to take up on Monday three motions moved by PPP’s Farhatullah Babar that call upon the government to convene a joint sitting of parliament to take up the bills which have lapsed. The motions are on top of the agenda for Monday’s session. The anti-rape laws bill seeks amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and the Qanoon-i-Shahadat to improve prosecution and make it far more difficult for rapists to escape the arm of the law.