The Senate passed a bill with a majority vote on Monday against the controversial clause in the electoral reforms law that paved way for deposed PM Nawaz Sharif to become the head of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) again.
Shibli Faraz of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) presented the bill, Express News reported. He told the Senate that the clause, 203 (1), had allowed a person disqualified by the court from holding a public office to become a political party’s office-bearer.
He added that the clause made a mockery of the court’s verdict and so the bill presented against it should by passed by the upper house of the parliament.
Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid opposed the bill, asserting that the opposition was taking an unconstitutional step.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani then sought a vote on the introduction of the bill. The opposition managed to bag 46 votes in favour of the bill against the treasury’s 21 against it. Later it was passed with a majority vote.
The Pakistan People’s Party, the PTI, the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid voted in favour of the bill.
Last month, the opposition parties in the Senate despite their combined had been unable to the stop the passage of the Elections Bill 2017.
Among the new laws introduced was an amendment to Section 5 of the PPO. The amendment allows every citizen who is not a government servant to form a political party or hold any office of a political party.
Introduced during Musharraf’s era, PPO Section 5 (1) says that every citizen, not being in the service of Pakistan, has the right to form or be a member of a political party or be otherwise associated with a political party or take part in political activities or be elected as an office-bearer of a political party.
But the clause currently has a proviso which reads “Provided that a person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a member of Parliament under Article 63 of the Constitution…or under any other law for the time being in force”.
That clause has disappeared in the bill. When the bill was passed in the National Assembly, it went unnoticed.
It was only during voting on the bill in the Senate that leader of the opposition Aitzaz Ahsan brought the development to the notice of the house and proposed an amendment in the relevant law passed by the National Assembly.
Ahsan proposed an amendment to clause 203 (1) of the new election laws with a new proviso stating: “provided that the person shall not be appointed or serve as an office-bearer of a political party if he is not qualified to be, or is disqualified from being, elected or chosen as a member of the parliament under any law for the time being in force”.
Law minister Zahid Hamid opposed the amendment, which led to the chairman calling a vote count. To the opposition’s surprise, Ahsan was outvoted by one vote, with 37 for and 38 against, despite the government’s numerical inferiority.
Rejection of Ahsan’s proposed amendment brought jubilation in treasury benches who congratulated each other for their success.
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Source: Tribune News | Senate passes bill against disqualified person heading political party