ISLAMABAD    -   The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice Thursday unanimously passed the National Accountability Amendment Bill 2019 and the Islamabad Real Estate (Regulation & Development) Bill 2018.

The Senate committee met here under the chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi while member of the committee included Farooq H. Naek, Senator Sherry Rehman, Sarfaraz Bhugti, Mushahidullah, Kalsoom Perveen, Bahramand Khan Tangi, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Barrister Saifullah, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and others.

Discussing the accountability bill, Farooq H Naek said, “National Accountability Bureau (NAB) should only investigate the matter and file reference before the court while the prosecution should be done under CrPC. The NAB should not make public any investigation unless a reference is filed before the court.”

He said that such investigations should not be shared with media as media trials harm reputation of an accused.

Quoting legal term everyone charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty, he said NAB should be barred from such practices by making such amendments.

The committee discussed and deferred the constitutional amendment bill 2019 introduced by 19 senators in Senate sitting on September 2 for increase in seats of national and provincial assemblies of Balochistan according to area not on population basis.

Senator Sarfaraz Bhugti briefing the body said that population must cease to be the milestone that determines seats in the national and provincial assemblies. He stressed the need for a shift in this trend and introducing a mechanism that ensures length and breadth of constituency terrain to determine number of seats.

He said that with merging of FATA in KP, seats had increased, emphasizing the same for Balochistan.

Senator Mir Kabeer Ahmed Muhammad Shahi was of the view that an MNA’s constituency in Punjab province entails 357 square km whereas that in Balochistan expends over 29000 square km.

This makes difficult for MNAs to perform duties in the province, he added. Chairman committee Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi said that such policy should be adopted nationwide.

Farooq H. Naek was of the view that there were many lacunas in the bill which would require several amendments in different articles.

The committee directed the Ministry of Law and Justice to present their opinion in three weeks in this matter.

Discussing the constitutional amendment bill 2019 (amendment article 51 and 106) pertaining to giving central and southern Punjab, the status of a province, Senator Bahramand Tangi said that in 2015 this bill was approved by a majority in the Senate.

It was also the part of PTI manifesto during the general elections; however no progress had been made so far in this regard, he added. Farooq H. Naek said that according to Article 239 Section 4, to change the status of any province, prior approval of the concerned provincial assembly was imperative.

The secretary, Ministry of Law said that any part of the constitution may be changed by the parliament.

Taking the matter of a sit-in of State Life Insurance Corporation employees for their demands raised by Senator Mushahidullah Khan, the committee decided to summon the State Life Insurance Corporation’s affected employees to listen to their problems.