August 17, 2022
By Rehan Piracha
A treasury senator has sought the help of the federal law minister and the senate chairman in tracing a bill that has gone missing after both houses passed the legislation over two months ago.
Speaking on the floor of the Senate on August 17, Senator Irfan Siddiqui lamented that the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2022 bill passed by both houses about 70 days ago had not been received at the Presidency for the assent of the President. “Presidential spokesperson Qamar Bashir has officially stated that the bill has not been received yet for the President’s assent,” said Senator Irfan Siddiqui.
He said the bill was passed by the National Assembly on June 8 while it was passed by Senate on May 23. The senator was the mover of the bill in the upper house.
“The bill pertains to the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary and was thoroughly vetted in the standing committee, headed by Senator Mohsin Raza,” Senator Irfan Siddiqui told the upper house. “The bill was passed with the consensus of the treasury and opposition benches as I was an opposition member then,” he said.
The treasury senator said the National Assembly then passed the bill on June 8 and he came to know through news reports that the bill had disappeared as the President had not received it to give his consent.
“I fear that the bill is lying in the rusted cabinets in the parliament secretariat or elsewhere,” he told Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, requesting his intervention in tracing the whereabouts of the bill. The senate chairman and the federal law minister assured the senator that they would check with the secretariat and ministerial staff on the status of the said.
According to the official procedure, the secretariats of the National Assembly and Senate send a bill which has been passed by both houses to the ministry of parliamentary affairs which then sends it to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat. Officials in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat send the bill to the Presidency for the assent of President Arif Alvi.
However, officials in the President House have told Voicepk that they had not received the summary of the bill for the assent of the President till date. Officials in the legislative branch of the ministry of parliamentary affairs have confirmed that the bill was referred to the PM Secretariat in June after passage by both houses of Parliament. Voicepk.net contacted the public relations official of the PM Secretariat to seek confirmation whether the bill was referred to the Presidency for assent but no response was received till the filing of this report despite repeated calls and text messages.
Speaking to Voicepk, Senator Irfan Siddiqui said the bill sought to separate judiciary from the executive through substitution of the special judicial magistrates with Judicial magistrates in the Islamabad Capital Territory. “The Special Judicial Magistrates being the executive are conferred with judicial power that impedes the impartial administration of iustice,” he added.
Under the provision of sections 14 and 14A of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Special Judicial Magistrates being representative of the executive were empowered to exercise judicial functions and conduct summary trials of minor offences which are in contravention of the contours of separation of judiciary from the executive as safeguarded in the Constitution of Pakistan, according to the statement of objects and reasons mentioned in the bill.
Senator Irfan Siddiqui said it was not the first time that a parliamentary bill had gone missing, pointing out that a bill on enforced disappearance that the National Assembly passed had not surfaced in the Senate despite assurances from ministers and officials. “The bill on enforced disappearance has yet to be tabled for consideration in Senate and nobody knows what happened to it,” he added.