ISLAMABAD - The government and the opposition in the Senate yesterday locked horns with each other when the former moved to lay a copy of the money bill — the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 — before the Senate as required under Article 73 of the constitution.

The opposition objected over the move saying that the government wanted to lay a copy of the proposed law as a money bill while its contents shared with the house that it is an ordinance already promulgated by President Dr Arif Alvi.

The Parliamentary Leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) in the Senate Sherry Rehman in her remarks questioned that how the government promulgated this ordinance when both the houses of the parliament are in session.

The government is actually laying the ordinance, she said and added, “We don’t accept this bulldozing of laws.” She said that there was a different way when an ordinance has to be laid in the house in the form of the bill. She said that the government earlier had agreed with the opposition to withdraw some ordinances already laid in the National Assembly but now it was laying these in the form of bills while these ordinances were also in the field.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Senator Azam Swati clarified that this ordinance was promulgated on 28th December when both the houses were not in session.

He said that this ordinance was then laid in the National Assembly as a bill under Article 89 (3) (a) and now this bill has been transmitted to the Senate from there.

Quoting the said article, he said that “any ordinance laid in NA should be deemed to be as a bill in NA.”

The minister said that the government had followed the rules and the constitution by doing so and has done nothing wrong. He said that the bill has been laid in the Senate under requirement of Article 73 & Article 74 of the constitution and the upper house has only to only give its recommendations on the money bill that are not binding for NA under the constitution.

His remarks were also endorsed by Leader of the House Syed Shibli Faraz.

Deputy Chairman Senate Saleem Mandviwalla who was presiding over the session said that the Senate had received this document from NA in the form of a bill and not as an ordinance.

However, Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq said that the opposition doesn’t consider this document as a bill keeping in view its content which explicitly says that it is an ordinance. He said that the opinion of the house should be sought through a vote to decide the matter. “Let the house decide the matter.”

The leader of the house challenged the opposition to quote relevant provisions of the constitution to support their point and said that laying of the copy of the bill doesn’t need opinion of the house which is opposition dominated otherwise.

When the parliamentary affairs minister stressed the chair to give a ruling on the matter as the Senate Secretariat has already informed him that document was sent by NA in the form of bill, the chair allowed the government to lay the copy of the money bill. On this, he laid the copy of the money bill before the house to seek its recommendations on it.

On this, the opposition leader said, “They oppose this move as it was a wrong procedure and a violation of the constitution.”

PML-N Senator Javed Abbasi said that the government should lay each ordinance in either house and then later bring it in the form of the bill. He said that the government was avoiding to lay any ordinance in the house because the opposition having its majority in the Senate could disapprove it through a resolution as provided in the constitution.