ISLAMABAD    -   No amount of heckling, arm flailing, or banging on desks could stop the PTI government railroading a plethora of legislation through the National Assembly on Thursday.

Amid strong protest by the opposition, the PTI government forced its way to get nearly a dozen bills passed from the National Assembly with majority vote.

A total of 15 bills including 13 presidential ordinances were tabled by the government in the House. Out of these11 bills including nine ordinances were given thumbs-up by the legislators.

At the onset of assembly’s proceedings, Deputy Speaker Qasim Khan Suri, while ignoring rumpus by the opposition, extended the duration of three ordinances by further 120 days in the shortest time ever.

As soon as the session began, members of the opposition parties gathered around the podium and started chanting anti-government slogans to register their protest against the passing of the bills in a rush.

The opposition lawmakers tore apart copies of the agenda items. The House, during the first half hour of proceedings, echoed with the anti-government slogans.

Interestingly, unlike what was witnessed in the past, the government lawmakers remained calm and did not take on the opposition. The treasury members were seen only focused on the legislation as they helped the chair pass the 11 bills only in an hour’s time.

Though the opposition members kept chanting slogans, tearing the copies of agenda items and throwing these into the air, not even a single member from treasury benches bothered to control the situation.

Although senior lawmakers from the opposition Khawaja Muhammad Asif of PML-N and Naveed Qamar of PPP made a failed attempt to take the floor, but the chair did not entertain them.

Sensing mood of the chair, the lawmakers preferred to encircle the speaker’s dais to register their protest. The House also witnessed an emotional scene, when Naveed Qamar, in a fit of pique, threw copies of all the bills in the air.

The opposition members, when failed to stop unprecedented speedy legislation, almost stopped protesting and sat on their seats.

The government managed to get eleven bills passed namely, ‘The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, 2019’, ‘The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019’, ‘The Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill, 2019’,  ‘Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Bill 2019’, ‘National Accountability (Amendment) Bill 2019’, ‘Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2019’, ‘ The Whistle Blower Protection’ and Vigilance Commission Bill, 2019’, ‘The Benami Transaction (prohibition) (Amendment Bill, 2019’, ‘The Medical Tribunal Bill, 2019’, ‘The Pakistan Medical Commission Bill, 2019’, and ‘The Naya Pakistan Housing’ and ‘Development Authority Bill, 2019’.

The ordinances, whose duration was extended for another 120 days, were Federal Government Employees Housing Authority Ordinance, 2019 (No VIII of 2019), the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 (No. VII of 2019), and the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Ordinance, 2019 (No. VI of 2019).

NATIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY ORDINANCES

The National Accountability Ordinance, 2019 says, “Any offence involving any amount above fifty million rupees shall be entitled to ‘C’ class or equivalent only in prison irrespective of the stage of inquiry, investigation of trail.”

The statement of objects and reasons says, “In order to provide for appropriate treatment on arrest, amendment is proposed in the ordinance to remove any concession during the period of arrest of such persons.”

OWNERSHIP OF WOMEN IN PROPERTY

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, ‘The rights of ownership of women in inheritance are violated usually by their family members by means of coercion, fraud, fabrication, forgery and cheating etc. It is necessary to provide an effective and speedy redressal mechanism to protect and secure the rights of ownership of women in the property.’

WHISLEBLOWER PROTECTION AND VIGILANCE

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “the identity of whistleblower shall not be disclosed before the authority or any agency or forum or to anyone even after the finalization of the matter.”

“Any person who lodges frivolous or false whistleblower information shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not extend to more than two years.”

Benami Transaction (Prohibition) ACT

According to the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, “The amendment defines whistleblower, which include a person, entity, or any agency with regard to existence of any property held as Benami.”