LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Monday unanimously approved amendment to its rules of procedure, empowering the Speaker to issue order of production of a legislator in custody for a session.

The treasury also managed to carryout maiden legislation as the House passed the Punjab Right to Public Services Bill 2018 with a majority vote, rejecting all cut motions moved by the opposition.

The Punjab Domestic Workers Bill 2018 was pended for next Monday on the objection of the opposition while the treasury did not take up the third bill on agenda for the government business, the Punjab Prevention of Conflict of Interest Bill 2018.

The session started one hour and 15 minutes beyond the scheduled time with Speaker Ch Parvez Elahi in the chair.

Unlike the usual practice, the opposition stayed in the House during the government business to support last item on agenda-amendment in rule 79 of Rules of Procedure of Provincial Assembly of the Punjab 1997, relating to powers of the Speaker to issue production order of a detained legislator. Opposition leader Hamza Shehbaz was all praise for the Speaker for taking the initiative of making necessary amendments in the assembly rules. The PPP legislators led by parliamentary leader Syed Hassan Murtaza staged a walkout from the House to protest against not giving representation to the party in the committee given the task of amending assembly rules. On giving task by the chair, Minister for Prosecution Ch Zaheer-ud-Din persuaded the PPP legislators to return to the House for taking part in the proceedings. Legislators from both sides of the political divide welcomed Hassan Murtaza in the House by thumping desks.

The House approved addition of rule 79-A with the heading ‘Production of a member in custody for a sitting of the Assembly’.

As per the newly inserted rule, the Speaker may, of his own motion or on the written request of a member in custody on the charge of a non-bailable offence, summon the member to attend a sitting or sittings of the Assembly, if the Speaker considers the presence of such member necessary. On a production order under sub-rule (1), signed by the Secretary or by any other officer authorized in this behalf, addressed to the government or to the Authority where the member is held in the custody, to be produced before the Sergeant-at-Arms, who shall, after the conclusion of the sitting, deliver the member into the custody of the government or the Authority concerned.

Earlier, opposing the Punjab Right to Public Services Bill 2018, PML-N legislator Azma Zahid Bokhari said that holding officers responsible for mistakes was not justified as ministers and parliamentary secretaries were also part of the government. She said that the bill was aimed at tightening screws of public servants. She said that those coming to powers after taking votes and not the officers should be accountable for misdeeds. The chair expunged remarks of Azma Bokhari against top leadership of the PTI.

PML-N’s Waris Kalu said that there was no justification of setting up a separate authority. He stressed the need of devising mechanism within institutions to check wrongdoings. He suggested the treasury to avoid doing such legislation in haste.

PPP’s Hassan Murtaza said that passage of bills in the absence of standing committees was a wrong tradition. He also questioned the status of the special committee that had no representation of PPP, a major party. He said that constitution of standing committees and referral of bills for input would not slow down progress. It was a set procedure, he said, which should be adopted.

During Question Hour on Communication and Works, Social Welfare and Bait-ul-Maal, the chair suggested Minister Ajmal Cheema to get detailed briefing from the department.

Ajmal Cheema said that the PML-N has done nothing during its two tenures. He said that the PTI was moving in the right direction to correst past blunders.

On giving unsatisfactory reply to supplementary question of Azma Bokhari regarding measures to check beggary, the chair asked the minister to get briefing regarding future plans of social welfare department.

On completion of agenda, the chair adjourned the session till Tuesday (today) at 11am.