LAHORE - Punjab Assembly was yesterday told that a recent amendment approved by the Assembly in its rules of procedure was not actually recommended by the special committee constituted by the Speaker.

This particular amendment regarding restrictions on the right of members to move adjournment motions sailed through the House in February this year without any trouble.

Through an amendment in section- 81-A, it has been enacted that House will not take up more than one adjournment motion from a member in a day.

A PML-N lawmaker, Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, who was member of the special committee on rules of procedure, pleaded before the Chair that the committee had not made any such recommendation as per his information. Suspecting that law department might have intervened at the last stage to insert this amendment, he requested the Speaker to give a ruling if the law department had the mandate to change the recommendations of a House committee.

Malik Ahmad also said that though he could not attend some of the meetings of this committee but he knew that majority of the members had opposed this amendment.

No member from the treasury side or any of the members of that committee challenged the veracity of what their fellow lawmaker was saying on an issue which was quite embarrassing for the government. 

Speaker Rana Muhammad Iqbal disposed of the matter saying why he (Malik Ahmad) had kept silent when the House approved this amendment. “You should have pointed this out at that time”, he asked.

 Another member from the treasury benches, Sheikh Alauddin, who has earned the distinction of being the most vibrant member of the Assembly with maximum number of adjournment motions of public interest to his credit, also raised questions about the new amendments in the Assembly rules of procedure. “Mr Speaker, the working of the Assembly has not improved since the introduction of the new changes”, he averred. 

Speaking on a point of order, he pointed out that the time meant for zero hour, a new addition to discharge assembly business, was not being properly utilized. Quoting example from the corporate sector and the Pakistan Army, he told the House that zero hour is always scheduled ahead of the routine business. But in our case, he added, it has been given the least priority by placing it at the bottom of the agenda. He further argued that at this point of time members are in a hurry to leave the House and show little interest in Assembly proceedings. Alauddin suggested that zero hour should be placed at the top of the Assembly business to make it productive.

According to the newly introduced section 113-A of the Assembly rules of procedure, “the last half an hour of a sitting shall be utilized as “zero hour” to take up matters of urgent public importance relating to the Government and requiring intervention of the Assembly”.

Opposition leader Mehmoodur Rashid also suggested that Assembly rules of procedure should be revised to empower the standing committees with suo moto powers. He told the House that all provincial assemblies except the Punjab Assembly had empowered their standing committees to exercise suo moto powers in important matters.

It was private members day on Tuesday. The Assembly adopted four resolutions urging the government to provide missing facilities at all rural health centers, basic health units and to ensure free diagnosis, treatment and awareness of cervical cancer. One of the resolutions demanded of the government to take measures to control the sale of substandard cotton seed and pesticides and take strict action against producers and sellers of substandard drinks. The House deferred four matters of public importance raised during zero hour while a matter regarding provision of jute bags was referred to the relevant standing committee for its consideration.