ISLAMABAD -  The PML-N government Wednesday failed to pass ‘The Right to access to information bill, 2017’ due to lack of required quorum in the National Assembly.

The government and opposition engaged in a heated discussion on the ‘controversial’ bill for an hour. The opposition after failing to incorporate their proposed amendments in the bill took benefit of thin presence from the treasury benches and pointed out lack of quorum, which led to adjournment of the house.

Giving reference of recent fire incident at ‘Awami Markaz’ in Islamabad, the opposition proposed proper legislation on ‘protection of official record’ and formation of ‘independent commissions’ to probe incidents of recently burnt record incidents, including ‘Nandi Pur’, ‘Metro’ etc. It was also feared that Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) deal record might also be burnt in the future.

Minister of State for Information Maryam Orangzeb, speaking on the bill, said all the lawmakers should be proud over legislation on it. “Record burning issues will also be addressed in this legislation,” she said.

Minister for Law Zahid Hamid said that the clauses of the bill had already been discussed in length. “Even after complete deliberation on it, the opposition is coming up with amendments,” said minister.

Opposition Leader Syed Khursheed Shah proposed that there should be a complete consensus of the government and opposition over any legislation.

“Government should follow good tradition set by PPP in its era about consulting the opposition before passage of any bill,” he said.

PPP’s Nafeesa Shah, on her turn, floated an idea of proper legislation for ‘official record protection’. “Independent commission needs to be formed to probe the incidents, in which official record was burnt,” she said, citing the example of ‘Awami Markaz’, ‘Nandi pur’, ‘Metro’ etc and other official records burnt in different incidents. She also feared that LNG’s official record might also meet the same fate.

PTI Shireen Mazari said that there were many flaws of language in the bill, which needs to be addressed. “Apart from other mistakes in the bill, there are flaws of language in the bill,” she said proposing amendment in clause-7. The clause-7 of the bill says: “It will not be applied on file of public body, record of the banking companies, record related to defence, etc.”

Another PTI MNA Shehryar Afridi registered his reservations with the chair for not giving him an opportunity to take part in the legislation.

MQM Ali proposed to place the bill on the official website of the National Assembly so that all lawmakers could easily access it.

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “the proposed bill intended to promote a two-way flow of information from government to the people and vice versa for strengthening and safeguarding the public’s ‘Right to know’”.

“The bill is being introduced to ensure that the citizens of Pakistan may have the fullest possible access to public records,” it says.

The house passed "The National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, 2017."  The Bill was moved by Minister for Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed Tarar.

The statement of object and reasons of the bill, “Pakistan ratified the UN convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990 and its optional protocol on sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography in 2011, this obliged to implement these instruments and report progress to the UN committee on rights of the child every five years.”

PTI Shireen Mazari and PPP’s Nafeesa Shah said that there was a need of independent commission.

The house was adjourned abruptly for the second consecutive day due to lack of required strength. Opposition MNA Sajid Nawaz, in the middle of discussion on bill ‘The Rights to access to information’, pointed out lack of quorum. There was no required strength in the house, as the house witnessed thin presence throughout the day. The chair abruptly adjourned the proceeding of the house, feeling the lack of required strength. The house was also adjourned the other day (Tuesday) due to lack of required strength.

The house was to conduct debate and to pass a resolution for expressing solidarity with the ‘Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar’ but it was adjourned due to lack of required strength. The lawmakers on last Monday had decided to discuss and pass a resolution for expressing solidarity with ‘Rohingya Muslim in Myanmar’.

 

 

JAVAID-UR-RAHMAN

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 14-Sep-2017 here.