ISLAMABAD - The Upper House of the Parliament in its 250th session passed as many as six bills, including the controversial cybercrime bill, and adopted 10 resolutions.

During the last Senate session that ended on July 29, the house amended its rules of business to give representation to the Senate in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly. The house also rejected the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2015 that was aimed at curtailing the powers of the anti-corruption watchdog on probing corruption cases in provincial government departments.

According to a report prepared by the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), the senators with an average of 13 per cent remained present at the start and 21 per cent at the end of each sitting. The session comprising 10 sittings took up most of its agenda. A maximum of 64 (62percent) members, on average, attended the session along with the presence of three minority senators.

On average, each sitting started almost at the scheduled time and lasted three hours and 53 minutes. The prime minister did not attend any of the sittings. An effective system of governance is the one where elected head of the government gets engaged in parliamentary interventions on a regular basis, observed the report. Sub-rule (2A) of Rule 61 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate also states that  prime minister shall attend Zero Hour (last hour of the sitting) at least once a week when the Senate is in session.

On the other hand, the chairman attended the entire sittings and presided over 78 per cent of the session's time. The deputy chairman attended seven sittings and chaired 12 per cent of the proceedings, while three per cent of the time was presided over by members of the panel of presiding officers and 7 per cent time was consumed in breaks.

The leader of the house was present in nine sittings and attended 64 percent of the session's time while the opposition leader remained present during nine sittings and attended 37 per cent of the session's time.

The six government bills passed included the Private Power and Infrastructure Board (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Financial Institutions (Recovery of Finances) (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Credit Bureaus (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Islamabad Capital Territory Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill, 2016.

Six other bills introduced in the House were referred to the relevant standing committees for further deliberations. These included the Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Prohibition of Smoking and Protection of Non-smokers Health (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the State Life Insurance Corporation (Re-organization and Conversion) Bill, 2016; the Special Economic Zones (Amendment) Bill, 2016; the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (Substitution of Article 28) and the Premarital Blood Screening (Family Laws Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The House rejected the National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2015 with a difference of one vote. After presentation of relevant committee's report, the bill was made part of Senate's agenda. The chair ordered voting on the bill and the result was 20 votes on each side. After some time, the chair again conducted voting on the bill, and some treasury members were seen coming to the house to cast their vote. As a result, the counting number tilted in favour of the treasury as 23 votes were polled against the bill and 22 in favour, leaving the bill rejected by one vote.

The house adopted 10 resolutions to pay tributes to the legendary Pakistani philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi; condemn Indian aggression in occupied Kashmir; express condolence over death of Qawwal Amjad Sabri; promote religious harmony; show commitment and solidarity with democratic institutions of Turkey; condemn terrorist attack in Madina Munawara; show solidarity with the Kashmiri people over Indian aggression in the occupied Valley; control child begging in Islamabad; provide quality health services in Federal Government Hospitals and prepare a National Safety Plan and National Transport Policy for National Highways and Motorways.

Human rights issues were highlighted through various interventions during the session. Parliamentary interventions were used to discuss violation of human rights in occupied Kashmir, poverty alleviation steps in the country; women protection at work places; honour killings; rights of peasants at Okara farms; juvenile rights and safeguarding fundamental rights, including protection of property, equality of citizens, right of education, right of information, and freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

The House witnessed presentation of 22 reports of the standing committees while extension in time period was granted for submission of 10 reports under Rule 194 (1).

The lawmakers raised 91 points of public importance that consumed 333 minutes of the session's time.

The House considered two agenda items of Senate Business. The first included the presentation of Draft Code of Conduct for Members of the Senate of Pakistan as finalized by the House Business Advisory Committee for information and feedback of members before its operationalisation while the second was regarding discussion on the existing situation, laws and policies related to the marginalised segments of society; vulnerable children, women, handicapped, transgender and the minorities.