LAHORE - The treasury benches on Wednesday showed extraordinary speed to carry out legislation on three important bills amid opposition’s boycott of the 34th session of the Punjab Assembly.

With Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan in the chair, the Punjab Assembly virtually had less than 30 minutes session, which was scheduled to start at 10am, but could not start until 2pm. This inordinate delay offended the opposition. Also, representation of the opposition in the House was not appreciable. It took the House just 15 minutes to pass three bills without any debate after Asim Mahmood, the only opposition member present in the House, walked out in protest against delay in the session.

The Chair set a new example by putting off the Question Hour to another day so that the government business is immediately taken up. The legislators were in a hurry most probably because they had to go to a lunch hosted in their honour.

Enjoying a field day, the treasury hurried through the Punjab Education Initiative Management Authority Bill 2017. The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment Bill) 2017 was also passed in the same haste. The new law is aimed at penalising the motorists not using new number plates having security featured. A motorcyclist not using the latest number plates, which security cameras can detect, will be fined Rs1,000, car/jeep operator Rs2,000 and a public service/private or public vehicle operator Rs5,000.

The Punjab Zakat and Usher Bill 2017 was passed to devolve assessment, collection and disbursement of Zakat and Usher to Punjab as per the devolution scheme laid out in the 18th Constitutional Amendment. The updated law has repealed the existing Zakat and Usher law.

It may be mentioned that the session had initially started at 11.35am but quorum was pointed out by the opposition soon after recitation of Holy Quran.

Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan urged the Chair at the start of the proceedings to put off the Question Hour to some other day because secretaries and other relevant staff had gone to Multan with Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif who had to inaugurate a kidney and liver transplant institute there. The speaker allowed the request. On this, PTI member Asim Mahmood stood up and objected to deferment of the Question Hour. He said that answers to questions relating to primary healthcare had been awaited for the last two years but secretaries and other officials did not come to the House because they gave more importance to chief minister’s visit than the assembly. This is the state of affairs in the assembly, which has already wasted four hours caring least about the fact that all its expenses are borne by the public, he said. He said the House set a new precedent by putting off the Question Hour.

Rana Arshad snubbed opposition members for their attitude. Asim took his way out in protest and no one was there on the opposition benches to question the legislation.

On completion of the agenda in a very brief time, the session was adjourned till 10am on Thursday (today).