ISLAMABAD - Senate chairman yesterday warned the government that it was continuously violating the constitution by not convening the meeting of Council of Common Interests (CCI) and this could have chaotic effect on the polity.
The prime minister under Article 154 (3) of the Constitution is required to convene CCI once in every 90 days. The forum provides federation and the provinces platform for discussing and resolving issues of mutual concern.
Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani said this while giving an earlier reserved ruling on a motion moved by Senator Sassui Palejo on December 21, 2015 seeking to discuss the domain and jurisdiction of the CCI and the situation arising out of non-convening of the council.
Rabbani gave 15 days to the government to follow the constitutional provisions relating to CCI. He said the government violating the constitution obligation failed to summon the meeting of the council in the last 331 days.
"The consequences that flow there-from are grave and can have a chaotic effect bringing the entire state machinery pertaining to or dealing with the items of the Federal Legislative List, Part-II, to a grinding halt,” he said.
The chairman said that all matters relating to the formation and regulation of policies and exercising supervision and control over related institutions covered in the Federal Legislative List, Part-II, will be of no legal effect if they have not been passed or approved by the CCI.
The chair in his ruling also gave reference to all previous constitutions that adopted the mechanism for settlement of disputes between the centre and the provinces as well as within the provinces.
The ruling said that neither the rules of the council provide for the prime minister to take a decision and subsequently refer it the council for approval nor the federal cabinet constituted under Article 91 of the constitution can arrogate to itself the powers conferred on the CCI through Article 154 and 155 of the Constitution.
"I am conscious of the constitutional chaos and mayhem that can be created, therefore, I, reluctantly, restrain to hold all such decisions, actions and orders to be unconstitutional. However, any decision taken in violation of the constitutional scheme from 15 days after the date of announcement of this ruling will be in violation of the constitution,” he observed.
He directed the Senate secretariat to send a copy of the ruling to the president, prime minister, national assembly speaker, federal ministers for inter provincial coordination as well as law and justice, and the provincial chief ministers.
Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani also did not allow the government to bring the PIA (Amendment) Bill on the agenda of the house.
The chair remarked that Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs Friday morning informed the Senate Secretariat to bring this bill on that day's agenda. He said that the bill could not be brought on the agenda as rules did not allow this.
While giving reference to the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, he said that the government had to convey about all the business to the secretariat a day before the commencement of session and the govt had three days for this. Later the chair prorogued the house and thus the govt would now be able to table the controversial bill in the next session.
Separately, Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani clarified that he had earlier rejected a proposal for the construction of Chairman Senate house and houses of the chairpersons of standing committees with a proposed amount of Rs 100 million. He also rebutted a news item that a summary in this regard had been floated.