ISLAMABAD               -           A constitutional crisis for the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is in the offing as the Senate is far behind the required minimum number of days mandatory to meet in a parliamentary year under the Constitution.

The Senate has so far met for 56 days in the on-going parliamentary year and it has to meet for another 54 days to fulfil the constitutional requirement of minimum days, a senior official of the Senate Secretariat told The Nation yesterday.

The on-going parliamentary year of the Senate would end on March 12, 2020 making it impossible for the PTI government to fulfil the constitutional requirement.

The Upper House of the Parliament has to meet for at least 110 days in each parliamentary year under Article 61 of the Constitution. The Constitution says that the Senate “shall meet for not less than one hundred and ten working days in each year.

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq told The Nation that it was a complete constitutional violation if the house did not meet for the minimum days as required under the Constitution. “It is now apparent that the house would not meet this obligation,” he said.

Talking about the move of the government for not summoning the session for the last 115 days, the leader of opposition said that the PTI government was fearful that the opposition being majority in the Senate would disapprove all presidential ordinances it has promulgated during the last couple of months.

Under the Constitution, any house of the parliament can reject or disapprove any ordinance through a resolution by a majority of vote. The opposition parties in the Senate allege that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government was running the country by making legislation through ordinances and has “virtually paralysed the parliament.”

“The government has crossed all limits by not summoning the session of the Senate,” said Senator Haq, a veteran lawmaker of opposition Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz (PML-N). He said that the recent statement of Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Senator Azam Khan Swati is ridiculous for them. “The minister has said that the government is not summoning the session because the opposition used to raise hue and cry in the house,” he said. He added that the opposition was considering summoning another session of the upper house through requisition.

Last week, the opposition parties in the Senate had demanded of the government to summon a regular session of the Senate saying 108 days have passed since the house met last time on a regular basis.

The government had summoned the last regular session of the Senate on August 29 that was prorogued on September 3.

After this, Chairman Senate Mohammad Sadiq Sanjrani, in exercise of the powers conferred by clause 3 of Article 54 of the Constitution, had summoned the Senate on November 5 on the requisition of opposition parties that was prorogued on November 15.

The Parliamentary Leader of PPP in the Senate Sherry Rehman in her last week statement had expressed her shock over the “government’s dill delaying tactics” to summon the Senate.

She had mentioned that under Article 61, the Senate has to meet at least for 110 days during a complete parliamentary year. “The government is violating the Constitution by not summoning the session,” she had added.