Senate committee of the Whole adopts report on mode of Senate elections will be presented in House tomorrow

Islamabad, May 19, 2016 (PPI-OT):Senate Committee of the Whole adopted its final report on the mode of elections for the members of the Senate, pros and cons of single transferable voting system, alternates, poll reforms etc and the same will be laid in the Senate sitting on Friday.

The third meeting of the committee of the Whole constituted as result of a motion by Leader of the House in Senate, Raja Zafar-ul-Haq on the matter of Senate elections was chaired by Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani her at the Senate hall on Thursday.

The committee adopted its report which comprises of the whole verbatim of the speeches of 37 members during the two meetings, reference to related Constitutional articles, passages from old National Assembly and Senate proceedings, international best practices, a set of discussion, conclusion and seven recommendations to address the matter. Mian Raza Rabbani read out and explained the set of recommendations suggested in the report.

The Senate committee of the whole has concluded that the present system of indirect elections adheres to the intention of the legislature to establish a truly federal House which is a reflection of the national and provincial assemblies. The recommendation stated that any amendment in the mode of election will be against the basic structure of the Constitution of 1973. However, it was also recommended that this system needs reformation to ensure transparency.

The committee has also recommended that Senate elections will be conducted through secret ballot but name of MPAs or MNAs should be printed on separate ballot papers. The committee is of the view that in article 226 of the constitution, a proviso may be added that in case of Senate elections, parliamentary leaders may be allowed to request the presiding officer to show any member’s ballot paper so that it is ensured that party lines are followed while voting. Through this recommendation, it is hoped that horse trading will be discouraged.

The committee suggested that in Article 63(a) of the constitution pertaining to disqualification of members of parliament, it may be added that anyone voting against the party lines may be de-seated. On the matter of enhancing the powers of the Upper House, it was stated that a separate strategy will be adopted by first outlining the powers and then suggesting how to get the powers.

Senator Mohsin Laghari proposed that any candidate for membership of Senate should be a true representative of the constituency and should be a resident of that area for a time period which may be prescribed later. He also suggested that as relating to Presidential Ordinance of elections for members of FATA, a similar procedure may be prescribed for Islamabad. Both recommendations were accepted to be made part of the report and discussion from a recently debated resolution on the same topic will also be annexed with the report.

Senator Daud Khan Achakzai proposed that only independent candidates in the national and provincial assemblies should be allowed to propose or second the names of independent candidates for membership of Senate. This recommendation was also accepted.

Chairman Senate while reading out a few passages from National Assembly’s old debates stated that former law minister and the architect of the 1973 Constitution stated in National Assembly on 31 December, 1972 gave rationale for the election procedures of both the Houses of the Parliament. He had said that indirect elections are decided for Senate because Senate is representative of the provinces. Representation of different political parties in the Senate should be in the same proportion as they are in the national or provincial assemblies.

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H.No.7, Cat-II, G-8/2,