LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly which is likely to be dissolved on March 17, 23 days earlier than its stipulated constitutional tenure, passed a total of 134 bills in five years, out of which only 34 were new pieces of legislation. The rest were minor amendments in the existing laws. The provincial assembly which met for 302 days during the period, has left behind a backlog of 11 important bills, perhaps for the new assembly to pass. However, according to rules of business, all pending business dies with the dissolution of assembly and next assembly can't carry the left over. The assembly also failed to give a new local government system to the province because of government’s indecision to get the Punjab Local Government Bill passed. It was introduced in the assembly on June 7, 2012, but no legislation was done. The assembly, however, had to amend the Local Government Ordinance 2001 several times in three years to provide legal cover for not holding the local government elections which were due on October 17, 2009. Article 140-A of the Constitution says: (1) “Each Province shall, by law, establish a local government system and devolve political, administrative and financial responsibility and authority to the elected representatives of the local governments”.Similarly, Article 32 of the Constitution says: “The State shall encourage Local Government institutions composed of elected representatives of the areas concerned and in such institutions special representation will be given to peasants, workers and women."Important legislation on 11 bills of public interest is still in the pipeline including the most important bill on local governments. They include: The Punjab Live Stock Breeding Bill, 2012, The Punjab Zakat and Ushar Bill, 2012, The Punjab Building Control and Housing Schemes Regulatory Authority Bill 2012, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif University of Engineering and Technology, Multan Bill, 2013, The Lahore Garrison University Bill, 2012, The Punjab Evacuee Trust Properties (Management and Disposal) Amendment Bill 2012, The Punjab Private Education Commission Bill, 2012 , The Punjab Boilers and Pressure Vessels (Amendment Bill, 2012). The Assembly also did not pass the “Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2012”, but it does not come under the category of public interest legislation. In the last five years, the Assembly secretariat received 53 notices from Opposition members in respect of Private Bills of public interest. Of these, only 22 were admitted for legislation. With the exception of one bill, the majority party bulldozed 16 of these while six were sent to the standing committees concerned which never returned to the House till date. The private bills rejected by the treasury included the Punjab Public Service Commission (Amendment) Bill 2010 , The Punjab Office of the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2010, The Punjab Office of the Ombudsman (Amendment) Bill 2010, The Punjab Consumer Protection (Amendment) Bill 2009, The Punjab Social Services Board (Amendment) Bill 2009, The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab Privileges (Amendment) Bill 2009, The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2008, The Forest (Amendment) Bill 2008 , The University of Gujrat (Amendment) Bill 2008, The University of Sargodha (Amendment) Bill 2008, The Government College University, Faisalabad (Amendment) Bill 2008 , The King Edward Medical University (Amendment) Bill 2008 All these bills were intended to bring improvements in the working of departments by making the procedures simple for the people. In its 45 sessions, the assembly also took up 6,995 questions, 148 call attention notices, 663 adjournment motions, 1,747 resolutions of public interest and 265 privilege motions. The legislature remained in session for 414 days in five years, but the number of its actual sittings did not exceed the figure of 302. This means that assembly staff and the parliamentarians also got allowances and other benefits for extra 112 days during which they did not actually contribute anything in terms of Assembly business. On the positive side, the assembly made important legislation to enhance the quality of health and education of the people. It passed 11 bills to set up new educational institutions in the province. These include: The University of Wah Act 2009, The Hitech University of Taxila Act 2009, The Ali Institute of Education Lahore Act 2010, The Punjab Daanish Schools and Centers of Excellence Authority Act 2010, The Institute of Southern Punjab Multan Act 2010, The Punjab Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority Act 2010, The Women University Multan Act 2010, The Global Institute Lahore Act 2011, The Lahore Leads University Act 2011, The Punjab Curriculum Authority Act 2012, The Information Technology University of the Punjab Act 2012 , The Qarshi University, Muridke Act 2011, The Government College Women University Faisalabad Act 2012, The Ghazi University, Dera Ghazi Khan Act 2012, The Government College Women University Sialkot Act 2012, The Government Sadiq College Women University Bahawalpur Act 2012.In health sector, the assembly passed “The Transplantation of Human Organs and Tissues Act, 2010, to prevent illegal trade of human organs and to facilitate their availability to the deserving patients. The assembly can also take credit for passing “The Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Act, 2010”, which is an important legislation to save the women from harassment at place of their work. Three other bills, which include: “The Punjab Conferment of Proprietary Rights on Occupancy Tenants and Muqarraridars Act 2012, , “The Punjab Holy Quran (Printing and Recording) Act, 2011” and “The Walled City of Lahore Act 2012” and “The Punjab Power Development Board Act 2011” would also be remembered as good pieces of legislation by the outgoing Assembly. “The Nazaria-i-Pakistan Foundation (Repeal) Act 2008” is also one of them. The assembly also passed some controversial bills as well. “The Punjab Metrobus Authority Act 2012” and The Sasti Roti Authority Act 2010” are two cases in point. A shoe-throwing incident involving PML-N and PML-Q ladies would be remembered as a shameful event in Punjab Assembly’s history. Sheikh Alauddin of PML-Q forward bloc had incited the ladies to go to that extent. It happened on June 20, 2012 when Alauddin picked up fight with PML-Q ladies by using abusive language pushing aside all norms of decency. It was PML-N’s Anjum Safdar who threw her shoe aiming at PML-Q’s Samina Khawar Hayat. But it missed the target and hit Seemal Kamran instead. Seemal in turn threw it back towards the treasury benches. In the commotion which followed, women were seen slapping each other and pulling each other’s clothes, while men were seen grabbing each other’s collars. The incident brought a bad name to the lawmakers. The five-year tenure of Punjab Assembly was also marked by rare appearance of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the house. “The chief minister has more important things to do than coming to the house”, the visibly perturbed Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah once told Leader of the Opposition, Raja Riaz who would agitate this issue quite often on Assembly flour. The issue of proxy attendance by members also remained an issue during first three parliamentary years. It was ultimately resolved by placing the attendance register at the entrance point of the House. All members were required to mark their attendance in presence of an Assembly Superintendent. The outgoing assembly would also be remembered for humble posture of Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal who would seldom use his authority to maintain order in the House. On occasions when unruly members would not listen to him, he would adjourn the sitting for some time to restore normalcy in the House instead of asserting his authority. Deputy Speaker Rana Mashhood was known for his ‘liberal policy’ of giving floor to most of the lawmakers irrespective of the political divide in the House. He had also acquired mastery over the art of ‘quick legislation’. He would dispose of legislative business at the speed of 10 laws per hour and some times even more. As the PML-N government did not take any interest in the expansion plan of the assembly building, the legislators were deprived of the opportunity to sit in the newly-constructed spacious House, a grey structure at the moment. The provincial authorities are clueless about the future use of the new building once it is complete, and south Punjab becomes a province as planned.This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 16-Mar-2013 here.