ISLAMABAD - The Senate yesterday unanimously passed eight bills, including the one seeking increase in the strength of Supreme Court of Pakistan judges in order to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the people.

In the Supreme Court(number of judges) (Amendment) Bill 2016 recommended increase in the strength of apex court judges from existing 17 to 26, as recommended by the Senate Committee of Whole during its deliberation on provision of inexpensive and speedy justice in the country.

The other bills unanimously adopted by the Upper House included the Witness Protection, Security and Benefit 2016; the Law Reforms (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Anti Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill 2016; the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, 2016.

These bills were moved by Leader of the House in Senate Senator Raja Zafrul Haq along with 14 senators, including Aitzaz Ahsan, Leader of the Opposition Col(Retd) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi, Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Saeed Ghani, Muhammad Talha Mehmood, Muhammad Hussain Syed, Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Baz Muhammad Khan, Hidayat Ullah, Numan Wazir Khattak, Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah and Sirajul Haq.

These bills were prepared in the light of the recommendations of the Committee of the Whole after a detailed debate “on provision of inexpensive and speedy justice in the country.”

Giving rationale on increase in the strength of SC judges it was laid down in the bill that as per economic survey 2014-15 the population of the country runs into about 191.7 million and strength of SC judges stands at 17 only which is major cause in delaying the process of the justice.

So the Senate Committee of the Whole proposed enhancing the number of judges from 17 to 26 after consultations with stakeholders.

Earlier, rejecting the bill moved by Senator Azam Swati regarding the Registration of Hajj and Umrah operation bill 2016 to provide for regulating, controlling and facilitating the business of Hajj and Umrah operators, Federal Minister for Religious Affairs Sardar Muhammad Yusuf said the government will introduce two separate bills to regulate and facilitate the business of Hajj and Umrah operators. He said the bills after approval of the Cabinet will be laid before the Parliament.

The Upper House of Parliament also adopted with voice vote two resolutions sponsored by MQM Senator Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi.

The first resolution demands the government to depute female staff in all departments of Gynecology, breast cancer and mammogram in all government hospitals in the federal capital. The other one was about taking effective steps to explore new reserves of oil and gas in the country.

Two other resolutions sponsored by JI Senator Siraj ul Haq were carried forward on his own request while another resolution by PTI lawmaker Samina Abdi was dropped due to her absence.

Minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry informed the Upper House that the government was taking concrete measures for providing health and education facilities to the people of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

Responding to a motion, he said the government was spending Rs7 billion for up-gradation of educational facilities to promote quality education in the federal capital.

He said efforts are being made to improve existing health facilities and as part of such efforts, work has been completed on state-of-the-art cardiology centre and burn unit at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. He said Polyclinic is being expanded and its capacity would increase to 1100 from existing 545 beds. Similarly, a new hospital of 600 beds is planned in G-13.

Tariq Fazal said measures are underway to effectively tackle the Swine Flue disease, besides putting in place an effective monitoring system to ensure quality services for patients in the hospitals.

Earlier, Senator Rehman Malik said there should be equality in provision of medical facilities to the poor and the rich. He said hospitals should be equipped with modern facilities to effectively tackle diseases like Swine Flue.

Senator Chaudhry Tanveer Khan has proposed to the House to constitute a committee to oversee affairs of the hospitals in the federal capital.

Senator Col.(Retd) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashahdi said the government was focusing on mega projects but least attention is being given to crucial sectors of education and health.

Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that specialised clinics should be built and that number of doctors be increased with provision of good packages to them.

Senator Javed Abbasi said after 1985, no big hospital had been built in public sector while treatment in hospitals of private sector was costly.

Senator Usman Kakar said there was no trauma centre in any government hospital of the federal capital. He asked the government to allocate more funds for health facilities.