ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament Friday unanimously approved a report of the Special Committee on Devolution Process that recommended reconstitution of all federal policy and administrative boards or bodies in order to ensure equal representation of all provinces.

In another development, the Senate decided to convert the house into the Committee of the Whole House under the newly amended rule of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012 to discuss the mode of elections of members of Upper House, pros and cons of single transferable voting and poll reforms. The committee will place its report before the electoral reforms committee.

The house through a motion unanimously adopted the report of the Special Committee on Devolution Process that was earlier formed under the convener-ship of National Party Senator Mir Hasil Khan Bazenjo for oversight and review of the Senate regarding nominations to various policy and administrative boards and councils envisaged under various Acts of the parliament for ensuring that equal representation is given to all provinces.

In June this year, the lawmakers had raised before the house that the smaller federating units were not being given due representation in the policy and administrative boards of the federal government that is mandatory after the devolution of powers to the provinces as a result of 18th Amendment. Water and Power Khawaja Asif during the sitting of June 8, 2015 had also requested the house to support the executive in reconstitution of various boards in order to provide merit-based equal representation to all provinces.

"All policy and administrative boards, councils, bodies etc envisaged under various Acts of the parliament or established/constituted by an executive order shall be reconstituted in order to ensure that equal representation is given to all provinces," says the report. It recommends the federal government that all relevant laws/regulations/by-laws/executive orders shall be reviewed and necessary legislative amendments shall be carried out within a period of three months.

The report says that all nominations shall be strictly based on merit, the principles of conflict of interest shall be strictly adhered to and professionals, subject specialists as well as relevant persons shall be nominated to the technical boards, councils and bodies etc. The committee in its reports said that Senate shall constitute a permanent bi-partisan committee to oversee and ratify nominations to such boards, councils, bodies etc. The government shall place all nominations to various policy and administrative boards, councils, bodies etc flowing or origination from subjects falling under the Federal Legislative List Part I of Fourth Schedule to the Constitution before the bipartisan committee. While all such nominations falling under Legislative List Part II in the Fourth Schedule shall be placed in the form of summary before the Council of Common Interests and after approval, shall be placed before the Senate bi-partisan committee for ratification.

Out of the three lawmakers who took part in the debate on mode of Senate elections, two supported the indirect and present mode of elections while one Hasil Bazenjo proposed the direct election of the Senate to avoid use of millions of rupees to win a single seat in the Upper House elections.

"If we go to the direct election, the National Assembly would be the reflection of the Senate," Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani pointed towards the flaw of direct Senate elections. Hasil said that he wanted fiscal powers of the house through direct election but Rabbani again said that there were examples in the world that houses of the parliament, elected through indirect election, had fiscal powers. “Women seats in NA are also filled through indirect election,” he said.

Mushahid Hussain Syed opposed the direct elections method and added that even millionaires manage to succeed in direct mode of election as 63 per cent millionaires won last Senate election of US that was through direct mode. He said that hundreds of millions of rupees had to spend on direct elections and these were unacceptable. He also said that powers of the party head to get disqualify his party member from the Parliament needed to be reversed.

Farhatuulah Babar also supported the direct mode of election of Senate and he said that the mode of Senate election through secret balloting by members of provincial assemblies should not affect. He stressed that the issue of sale of Senate votes needed to be resolved. He also opined that the suggestion for open votes of the Senate elections was wrong. He said that the 18th amendment already placed enormous powers in the hands of party heads to prevent horse-trading and defection and it would be unwise to encourage party dictatorship.

Before the house decided to convert the house into the Whole Committee of the House, the Leader of the House said that experts should also be invited in the committee to have their input on the issue.