ISLAMABAD - The National Assembly on Wednesday passed the 19th Amendment Bill with a majority vote as 258 votes were polled in its favour while only one vote was cast against it. Earlier, the Federal Cabinet approved the draft of 19th Amendment Bill, after which it was presented in the National Assembly. Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, introduced the bill in the Lower House of the Parliament for approval. On his request, the Speaker National Assembly after taking census of the House dispensed the rules for consideration of the Bill comprising seven clauses that mainly deal with the appointment of judges. When the Bill was presented for consideration, 239 members of the Lower House voted in favour while Kashmala Tariq of PML-Q (Likeminded) cast her vote against it. However, she did not oppose even a single clause of the Bill. Later, she said that she favoured all the clauses of the bill but the issues like procedure of making new provinces and democracy within the parties should also be addressed in the 19th Amendment Bill as the Government had earlier assured this to her party. She also suggested formation of some more committees to appoint capable people in the institutions to ensure national progress. Earlier, elaborating the 19th Amendment Bill, Mian Raza Rabbani, while terming it a landmark in the history of the country, said that the Parliament believed in the freedom of judiciary. He added that the apex court had sent the clause 175A of the 18th Amendment back to Parliament for review. He said that the Committee reviewed the Supreme Courts order in detail on a number of occasions and each reservation of the Supreme Court was reconsidered. Rabbani said that the Bill gave effect to certain amendments in the Constitution after giving consideration to the observations of the Supreme Court. The fresh Amendment seeks changes in a two-pronged mechanism for appointing judges in the superior courts in the light of proposals forwarded to the Parliament by the Supreme Court in its order. He said that under the 19th Amendment Bill, the number of members of a Judicial Commission for appointment of judges was increased from two senior most judges to four senior judges and for the nomination of Pakistan Bar Council member in the commission no less than 15 years of experience was required. Later, the Speaker National Assembly announced the passage of the Bill. Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani later congratulated the House and said that there was an impression that the institutions could never work together but today the Parliament and political leadership with their political sagacity had proved that institutions could work together. In the past, amendments were made in the Constitution to empower the rule of an individual but this amendment has been made to strengthen the institutions, Constitution of Pakistan and the vision of Quaid-e-Azam to form a parliamentary system. It has balanced the judiciary and the Parliament. We have proved that we respect judiciary, Premier Gilani said. He also announced highest civil award for Mian Raza Rabbani for his services. Responding to Kashmala Tariq, Gilani said if somebody thought that there were still some issues to be resolved then this was not the end, adding that the names for the committee were given by the party leadership and every body should have confidence in their leaders. He brushed aside the impression that 19th Amendment was brought due to the pressure of the Supreme Court. Ahsan Iqbal of PML-N was of the view that the 19th Amendment had dispelled the mistrust between the Supreme Court and the Parliament. Judiciary respects the Parliament while the Parliament has proved that it does not want any clash with the apex court, he added. He also suggested that some more committees should be formed to appoint officials on institutions with transparency and merit. Maulana Attaur Rehman of JUI-F and Pervaiz Khan of ANP, Sheikh Waqas Akram of PML-Q and Abdul Qadir of MQM also congratulated the House on the passage of the 19th Amendment and termed it a landmark development. Earlier the Federal Cabinet Wednesday unanimously approved the Draft 19th Constitutional Amendment Bill for presentation in the Parliament. The Federal Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Gilani adopted a single point agenda to timely present the Bill in the National Assembly session. During the meeting, a proposal was also made to discuss the relations of the Government with its coalition partners Muttahida Qaumi Movement and JUI-F, said a source privy to the meeting. While, the Prime Minister said that these issues would be deliberated in the upcoming Cabinet meeting, said a source quoting the PM. Gilani termed the consensus evolved on the Bill as yet another historic achievement and congratulated the Chairman and the members of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms. Earlier, Mian Raza Rabbani briefed the Cabinet about the salient features of the Draft 19th Constitutional Amendment Bill and the proceedings of the parliamentary committee. He read out the 19th Constitutional Amendment Bill clause by clause which were unanimously approved by the Cabinet. Agencies add: Consisting of seven clauses, the Bill mainly deals with appointment of judges, addition of four-member senior judges of Judicial Commission and addition of Islamabad High Court in the list of higher judiciary. The House passed the bill through division of votes made to determine the actual number of votes in favour and against the amendment. The Bill proposes 26 amendments in six Articles of the Constitution. The Amendment proposes inclusion of four judges in the Judicial Commission instead of two. The legislation also proposes to withdraw the powers of the Chief Justice with regard to appointment of ad hoc judges in higher courts and handing over the same to the Judicial Commission. The Bill also suggests at least 15-year experience for the representative of provincial bar that will represent the body in the Judicial Commission. Before the final acceptance of the bill, Rabbani addressed the House and clarified that the right of appointment of ad hoc judges was not taken away from the Chief Justice, he would still make the appointment but with the consultation of the Judicial Commission which was not a part of the previous constitution, as per the new Bill the Chief Justice will not forward the names to the Parliamentary Committee but to the Prime Minister through Judicial Commission and from there the names of the ad hoc judges will be forwarded to President for approval. He said when the 18th Amendment was approved a lot of hue and cry was raised on Article 175 and a petition was submitted against it but all the government bodies kept on working according to the Constitution and despite of all this 18th Amendment Bill was passed in the Parliament unanimously. As per 19th Amendment Bill, articles 213, 182, 175, 81 and 246 have been amended, and IHC after the amendment in Article 175 has been added. He said the report by the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Reforms has increased the number of members of a judicial commission formed for appointments under the 18th Amendment. By amending Article 175-A, Judicial Commission has raised the number of the judges from 2 to 4 and for the nomination of the bar council member in the commission no less than 15 years of experience is required, Islamabad High Court(IHC) will also be given representation. It was informed that as per Article 68, now the appointment of judges in the Parliamentary Committee meeting will be recorded which previously happened in closed rooms. By making amendments to the 18th Amendment Bill a balance has been created in the powers among President, Parliament and Prime Minister, and provinces have been given autonomy. Rabbani said, We believe in freedom of justice and give a lot of respect to the judiciary, and democracy cannot move forward without the freedom of justice. He said this was a unique moment in the political history of the country that two very important constitutional bills are being presented unanimously in the House in 2010. He said the top political leadership had dispelled fears of confrontation among state institutions as the Lower House of Parliament prepared to amend the constitution for a second time in a year and this time in compliance with a Supreme Court order. All those who were predicting confrontation among state institutions will be disappointed today, Rabbani told lawmakers. While complimenting the role of members of constitutionals reforms committee and all political parties, he said that no dissent note was surfaced in the 19th Amendment. He said all the political parties also showed political sagacity and evolved consensus for national interests. He said all the constitutional organisations are functioning in their constitutional domain and political system is strengthening day by day. Speaking in the House, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani termed the passage of 19th Amendment Bill a very big decision of the Parliament that reflected that the government respected judiciary. He said the Bill would pave the way for future legislators to avert any clash of institutions. It underscored that each institution must pay respect to the other, he added.