The lower house of country on Tuesday passed the Contempt of Parliament Bill 2023 with majority vote.
The bill was introduced in the lower house last Tuesday and was presented by the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges chairman Qasim Noon.
Talking on the floor, Qasim Noon had questioned where is the supremacy of the parliament? Those who are disrespecting the lower house of the parliament should be held accountable.
Minister for Federal Education and professional Training Rana Tanveer Hussain appreciated the bill and said that this would help to improve oversight role of the Parliament.
After the passage of the bill, the mover Rana Muhammad Qasim Noon said that it was an historical moment in the parliamentary history of the country.
It would ensure the supremacy of Parliament which was mother of all the institutions, he said adding that such legislation was made in four provinces but it did not exist at the federal level.
He said this legislation would ensure proper functioning of the standing committees and parliamentary oversight role would be effective after it.
He thanked Speaker National Assembly, Secretariat, Minister for Commerce Naveed Qamar, Minister for Law and Justice Azam Nazeer Tarar and members of Standing Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges for their cooperation and guidance over the legislative proposal.
Earlier, speaking on the bill PML-N’s Rana Tanvir said that the Parliament being regularly insulted and said there should be punishment for those disrespecting it. “This bill is the need of the time, a key legislation, which was required since long”.
The law will be applicable to the officials of government, state institutions as well as the general public. A parliamentary committee comprising 24 members, with equal share from the treasury and the opposition benches, would inquire into the cases brought before it.
The committee will then suggest punishment that will be finalised by the leader of the house concerned.
According to this bill, a House through a motion may charge any person for contempt of a House and; the Speaker or the Chairman Senate, may refer the matter to the Contempt Committee. When a Committee is of the view that any person shall be charged for its contempt, the Chairman of that Committee may move such motion in the House.
The Speaker shall within thirty days of the commencement of this Act, constitute a Contempt Committee for the purposes mentioned in this Act. The Contempt Committee shall consist of twenty-four members having equal representation from each house.
According to the bill, a person is said to have committed contempt of parliament, if he is found to have “willfully breached the privilege of a member, a House or a committee; violated any law guarantying the immunities or privileges of the members; failed or refused to obey any order or direction of a House or a committee; refused to give evidence or recorded false statement before a committee; attempted or influenced a witness either by intimidation, threat or use of force to prevent him from providing evidence, producing documents or appearing before the committee; and failed to provide any documents or submitted tempered documents before a House or a committee”.
Any house of parliament trough a motion can charge any person for contempt of a House and the speaker or the Senate chairman may refer the matter to the “Contempt Committee”.
Section 6 of the proposed law says that “right of fair trial as enshrined in the Constitution shall be provided to each but no one shall be allowed to appear before the committee through legal practitioner or an advocate”.
“The Contempt Committee shall have powers as vested in civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 01 of 1908, for enforcing the attendance of any person and compelling the production of documents” and will have the powers to issue summons and arrest warrants with the final approval of the NA speaker or the Senate chairman, says the draft of the proposed law.
It says that any document, produced or evidence recorded by the committee shall not be admissible as evidence in any court and “any person giving evidence or producing documents before the Committee shall not be liable to any civil, criminal or departmental proceedings”.