ISLAMABAD – Clarifying the fate of the ‘controversial’ 24th constitutional amendment bill 2013, already passed by the Senate with a few days left to expiration of the provincial and national assemblies, Senate Chairman Nayyer Hussain Bokhari stated on Thursday the bill would automatically stand lapsed if it remained pending with the National Assembly until its dissolution on March 16.

The chair referred to Article 76(3) of the Constitution which states that “a bill pending in the National Assembly, or a bill, which having been passed by the National Assembly, is pending in the Senate, shall lapse on the dissolution of the National Assembly”.

The chairman spelled out the matter on a query from Mohsin Leghari, an independent lawmaker, that what would be the fate of the bill – aimed at creating Bahawalpur (South Punjab) province – passed by the Senate on Wednesday, when the term of the Assembly is to expire on 16th of this month. Bokhari was of the view that the bill would die its natural death, as the business of the present assemblies would come to an end after mid-March.

Another PPP leader, Islamuddin Sheikh, remarked that if the present National Assembly did not take up the bill on its agenda, the next assemblies could deal with the constitutional amendment, which was later rebutted by the chair referring to the Article 76(3).

Earlier, Leghari also termed the constitutional amendment bill contradictory to the 23rd constitutional amendment bill pending with the National Assembly, and feared that another bill would have to be introduced to remove this disagreement.

“The 23rd constitutional amendment will raise the number of seats for the minorities in Punjab Assembly from eight to 10, while the 24th amendment, passed by the Senate, will distribute the existing eight seats between Punjab and the proposed Bahawalpur province; with a ratio of five and three, respectively,” he said. He proposed the Senate held a clause-wise debate on the 24th amendment bill before its passage following other parliaments across the world. “We overlooked this thing and passed the legislation in haste,” he added.

Sheikh said the NA could bring an amendment to the 24th constitutional amendment bill in this regard, and the matter was not serious in nature. He also said the bill was circulated among lawmakers 25 days before its passage.

On another issue, Mohsin Leghari, while referring to the Rule 226(3) of the Procedure and Conduct of Business of the House, said that a member could not discuss the conduct of the judges of the Supreme Court, after Saeed Ghani of the PPP, as usual, criticised the apex court judges for giving observations against the PPP government.

Ghani said the superior judiciary had been victimising the PPP-led government by taking suo motu notices on the LNG project and RPPs, but was sparing the Punjab government.

The MQM staged a walkout from the House for what it called step-motherly treatment being meted out to the people affected by the Abbas Town blast in Karachi by the Sindh government.