September, 22, 2023
National Anti-Contempt Committee

National Anti-Contempt Committee

A national Parliamentary Anti-Contempt Committee comprising five members will be created to investigate. Within a timeframe of 30 days, this committee will have the power to summon, issue warrants, involve civil judges, and lodge appeals.

Javed Latif questions why one institution has achieved apolitical status while the other has not, stating that the Speaker and Chairman of the Senate will determine the course of action regarding the appeal, after which any national official can be called upon.

Islamabad (Waqas Ahmed, Agencies) – The National Assembly of Pakistan has recently passed significant legislation known as the Parliament Bill, which aims to prohibit the act of insulting Parliament, the National Assembly, the Senate, and its Members. Any individual found guilty of this offense will face a prison term of six months and a fine of Rs 10 lakh. The session of the National Assembly presided over by Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf, witnessed the introduction of the contempt Majlis Shura (Parliament) Bill 2023 by Rana Qasim Noon, the Chairman of the Privileges Committee. The bill received unanimous approval from the National Assembly.

Under this legislation, any instances of insulting Parliament or any individual or institution associated with it will be brought before the Privileges Committee. The Privileges Committee will then present its recommendations to both the National Assembly and the Senate within a period of 60 days. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the matter will be referred to the Anti-Defamation Committee. The Anti-Defamation Committee will consist of five members, with three representatives from the National Assembly and two from the Senate. The Speaker of the National Assembly will serve as one of the members, while the Prime Minister and the Opposition will nominate the other two members from the National Assembly. Similarly, the Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition from the Senate will nominate a member each. The Contempt Committee will possess the powers of civil Hajj, including the ability to issue summonses and warrants of arrest in cases of non-compliance.

If found guilty, the punishment for contempt of Parliament will be six months of imprisonment and a fine of 10 lakh rupees. The convicted individual will have the right to file an appeal within 30 days. The appeal against the sentence will be presented to the Chairman of the Senate and the Speaker of the National Assembly. A committee comprising the Speaker and the Chairman of the Senate will be empowered to review and make a decision regarding the appeal. Notably, no documents from the Anti-Defamation Committee can be used as evidence in any court.

The legislation also specifies that contempt of Parliament, any of its committees, or the violation of a member’s privilege will be considered an offense. The Act applies to any person who disobeys the orders or instructions of the House or its committees, breaches a member’s privilege, or obstructs a witness from providing evidence or testimony before a committee through threats or force. Furthermore, government officials can be summoned for contempt of Parliament.

During the discussions on the Parliament Bill, various members expressed their views. Federal Education Minister Rana Tanveer emphasized the importance of the legislation and suggested amending the standing committee rules. Rana Qasim Noon, the bill’s proponent, highlighted that it would enhance the authority of Parliament and protect the dignity of its members. Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali suggested including a provision in the bill that allows appeals against parliamentary interests. Naveed Qamar and Rana Qasim Noon proposed considering a separate bill to address surplus members. Meanwhile, Federal Minister Javed Latif criticized the decisions from subordinate courts to the Supreme Court, claiming that they hindered the return of Nawaz Sharif. He also expressed his stance against negotiating with terrorists and stressed the importance of adhering to the Constitution.

In addition to the Parliament Bill, the National Assembly addressed other legislative matters. Finance Minister Ishaq Dar announced a reduction in petroleum prices and called on transporters and provincial governments to ensure that the benefits of the price reduction reach the people. Defense Minister Khawaja Asif raised concerns about the prolonged delay in resolving issues between the Hockey Federation and the Pakistan Olympics Association, highlighting the need for improvements in their management.

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