Provincial Assembly of the Punjab

The Provincial Assembly of the Punjab is a unicameral legislature of elected representatives of the province of Punjab in Lahore, eastern Pakistan [http://www.pap.gov.pk/ Provincial Assembly of the Punjab] ] . The Assembly was established under the Article 106 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Under this article the total number of seats of the Assembly through direct vote is 297, of which 66 seats are reserved for women and eight seats for non-Muslims.

Historical Background

The Assembly Chamber was built in 1935 during British Rule and was the assembly for the undivided province. It was situated on a relatively open area. It was designed by Mr Bazel M. Salune, superintending architect of the Architecture Circle of Punjab. Its foundation stone was laid down by Sir Jogindar Singh, Minister of Agriculture, in November, 1935. After the division of Punjab and the emergence of Pakistan, the building became the administrative centre of Pakistani Punjab.

ite and Structure

The Assembly building, built on the Shahrah-e-Quaid-Azam, The Mall, is an example of Roman architecture and is one of the most renowned historical buildings in the country. The building and its expansive lawns are spread over an area of sixteen acres. The Assembly building has two floors. The first floor consists of a hall. The Assembly Hall, the pivotal part of the building, mixes Indian and Roman architecture in a style that combines the grandeur of both. It was originally designed for a small number of members, but it now has capacity to accommodate 271 members. The hall is fitted with public address and closed circuit television system. There are galleries for the press, radio, TV and visitors for viewing the proceedings of the Assembly, with a total capacity of 200 seats. The rest of the first floor consists of the Speaker's Chamber, Chief Minister's Chamber, Deputy Speaker's Office, Cabinet Room, Minister's Offices, two committee rooms and Assembly Secretariat offices.

There are on the ground floor a spacious reception area, cafeteria, library, prayer room, dispensary, the leader of the opposition's office, bank and offices of the Assembly Secretariat and one Committee room.

Hostels for assembly members

Besides the Assembly chambers, there are two residential hostels owned by the Assembly, where members attending sessions can stay.

Pipals House

The members' first residential hostel is called 'Pipal's House' and is situated near the Punjab Civil Secretariat. It was built in 1950. There are only 40 rooms in the hostel. The hostel consists of three two-storey blocks on three sides of a common garden, six rooms on each storey. There is a fourth block with four rooms.

Each residential unit consists of a large bed-sitting room, a dressing room and a bathroom. Some units have kitchen and veranda at the back. There is a corridor in front of all rooms serving as a passage.

New Hostel for Members of the Provincial Assembly

Due to the inadequate residential capacity of Pipal's House, a project for the construction of a new hostel near the Assembly was formed in 1988. It was planned to provide residence to the increasing number of members of the Assembly. Nayyar Ali Dada was appointed consultant by the Chief Minister, Punjab, who carried out the master plan for this project.

A site was selected for the construction of the new hostel in the lawn of the western side of the Assembly building.

Due to inadequate funding, the possibility of undertaking this project as a whole was not feasible. Therefore, this project was split into different phases. According to the master plan, it was planned that the new hostel building would comprise two blocks, A and B.

The shape of block A was semicircular, whereas block B was rectangular. According to the master plan block A comprising phase I and II, consisted of 108 suites.

In 1988, construction of phase I started and the foundation stone was laid down by the Chief Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. This phase was completed in 1992 and inaugurated by Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, speaker of the Assembly. It consists of a basement, a ground floor consisting of reception and lounge for visitors, and service areas. There are four residential floors consisting of a total of 36 suites. Each floor consists of nine suites and each suite consists of one bedroom with an attached bathroom and a kitchen.

The construction of phase II could not be undertaken. According to the original plan, this phase contemplated the construction of 72 residential units for members of the Assembly. This plan was later revised. The revised plan contemplated the construction of only 40 residential suites that consisted of a lounge, a bedroom, an office, a kitchen, and two bathrooms. One bathroom was attached with the lounge and other to the bedroom.

1973 Constitutional Introduction

For details of the constitution of Pakistan see Constitution of Pakistan

Constitution

Article 106 of the constitution provides that each Provincial Assembly shall consist of general seats and seats reserved for women and non-Muslims. The same article specifies that the Provincial Assembly of Punjab will have a total of 371 seats: 297 general seats, 66 reserved for women, and eight reserved for non-Muslims.

Qualification of members

According to Article 113 of the Constitution, the qualifications for membership of the National Assembly set forth in Article 62 of the Constitution also apply for membership of a Provincial Assembly. Thus, a member of the Provincial Assembly:

(a) must be a citizen of Pakistan;

(b) must be not less than twenty-five years of age and must be enrolled as a voter in any electoral roll in-(i) any part of Pakistan, for election to a general seat or a seat reserved for non-Muslims; and(ii) any area in a Province from which the member seeks membership for election to a seat reserved for women.

(c) must be of good character and not commonly known as one who violates Islamic Injunctions;

(d) must have adequate knowledge of Islamic teachings and practices obligatory duties prescribed by Islam as well as abstains from major sins;

(e) must be sagacious, righteous and non-profligate and honest and ameen;

(f) has never been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude or for giving false evidence;

(g) has never, after the establishment of Pakistan, worked against the integrity of the country or opposed the Ideology of Pakistan.

The disqualifications specified in paragraphs (c) and (d) do not apply to a person who is a non-Muslim, but such a person must have good moral reputation and possess other qualifications prescribed by an act of Parliament.

Disqualification of members

The criteria for disqualification of members of a Provincial Assembly is established by Articles 63, 63A, 113 and 127. A person shall be disqualified from being elected or chosen as, and from being, a member of the Provincial Assembly if the member:

(a) is of unsound mind and has been so declared by a competent court; or

(b) is an undischarged insolvent; or

(c) ceases to be a citizen of Pakistan, or acquires the citizenship of a foreign State; or

(d) holds an office of profit in the service of Pakistan other than an office declared by law not to disqualify its holder; or

(e) is in the service of any statutory body of any body which is owned or controlled by the Government or in which the Government has a controlling share or interest; or

(g) is propagating any opinion, or acting in any manner, prejudicial to the Ideology of Pakistan, or the sovereignty, integrity or security of Pakistan, or morality, or the maintenance of public order, or the integrity or independence of the judiciary of Pakistan, or which defames or brings into ridicule the judiciary or the Armed Forces of Pakistan; or

(h) has been convicted by a court of competent jurisdiction on a charge of corrupt practice, moral turpitude or misuse of power or authority under any law for the time being in force; or

(i) he has been dismissed from the service of Pakistan or service of a corporation or office set up or controlled by the Provincial Government or a Local Government on the grounds of misconduct or moral turpitude; or

(j) has been removed or compulsorily retired from the service of Pakistan or service of a corporation or office set up or controlled by the Provincial Government or a Local Government on the grounds of misconduct or moral turpitude; or

(k) has been in the service of Pakistan or of any statutory body or any body which is owned or controlled by the Government or in which the Government has a controlling share or interest, unless a period of two years has elapsed since he ceased to be in such service; or

(l) is found guilty of a corrupt or illegal practice under any law for the time being in force, unless a period of five years has elapsed from the date on which that order takes effect; or

(m) has been convicted under section 7 of the Political Parties Act, 1962 (III of 1962), unless a period of five years has elapsed from the date of such conviction; or

(n) whether by himself or by any person or body of persons in trust for him or for his benefit or on his account or as a member of a Hindu undivided family, has any share or interest in a contract, not being a contract between a cooperative society and Government, for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any contract or for the performance of any service undertaken by, Government.

Article 63A, which deals with disqualification on grounds of defection, was added to the Constitution in 1997. A member of a Parliamentary Party composed of a single political party defects if the member: (a) resigns from membership of the political party or joins another Parliamentary Party; or (b) votes or abstains from voting in the Provincial Assembly contrary to any direction issued by the Parliamentary Party to which the member belongs, in relations to (i) election of the Chief Minister; or (ii) a vote of confidence or a vote of no-confidence; or (iii) a Money Bill.

Privileges of members

Article 66 read with Article 127 confers freedom of speech on the members of the Provincial Assembly. No member is liable to any proceedings in any court of law in respect of anything said or any vote given by him in Assembly. Similarly no member is liable in respect of any publication which is published under the authority of Provincial Assembly.

However, Article 114 of the Constitution curtails this privilege and prohibits members from discussing conduct of judges of High Court and Supreme Court in the discharge of their duties.

First day proceedings in the Provincial Assembly

(a) Oath of Members. - After general elections, elected members in the first meeting take oath in the form set out in Third Schedule of the Constitution. Article 65 read with Article 127 states "A person elected to a House shall not sit or vote until he has made before the House oath in the form set out in the Third Schedule". Those members who have not taken oath in the first meeting take oath when they attend a meeting for the first time. The first meeting is presided by the outgoing Speaker. Article 53 (8) read with Article 127 says "the Speaker shall continue in his office till the person elected to fill the office by next Assembly enters upon his office."(b) Election and oath of Speaker and Deputy Speaker. - In addition to oath taking by the members, Provincial Assembly according to Article 108 to the exclusion of any other business, elect from amongst its members a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. When office of Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, in any way, the Assembly elects another member as Speaker or Deputy Speaker.

The elected Speaker and Deputy Speaker according to clause 2 of Article 53 read with Article 127 take oath before the House in the form set out in the Third Schedule.

ummoning and prorogation of Provincial Assemblies

Article 109 authorizes the Governor of the Province to summon Provincial Assembly to meet at such time and place as he thinks fit. Where the Governor summons Assembly he is authorized to prorogue it too. In addition to it, the Speaker, on a requisition signed by not less than one-fourth of the total membership of the Provincial Assembly, can summon it, at such time and place as he thinks fit within fourteen days of the receipt of the requisition. Article 54(3) read with Article 127 also empowers the Speaker to prorogue the session where he summons it.

Number of Sessions and days during a year

Article 54 (2) and (3) read with article 127 say there are at least three sessions of Provincial Assembly every year, with not more than 120 days intervening between the last sitting of the Assembly in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session. While clause 'g' of Article 127 read with Proviso to Article 54 provides that Provincial Assembly shall meet for not less than 70 working days in each year.

Duration of Provincial Assembly

The term of Provincial Assembly in Pakistan according to Article 107 is five years unless it is sooner dissolved, from the day of its first meeting and stands dissolved at the expiration of its terms.

Other methods of dissolution of Provincial Assembly

(a) Dissolution of Provincial Assembly on the advice by the Chief Minister. - Under Article 112, clause 1, the Governor of a Province is empowered to dissolve Provincial Assembly if so advised by the Chief Minister. Where the Chief Minister so advises, the Provincial Assembly stands dissolved at the expiration of 48 hours.(b) Dissolution of Provincial Assembly by the Governor on the approval by the President. - Clause 2 of the same Article again empowers the Governor to dissolve Provincial Assembly subject to the approval of the President, where he is of the opinion, that after having been passed a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister, there is no other member of the Provincial Assembly to command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Provincial Assembly, in a session of the Provincial Assembly summoned for the purpose.

Executive Authority of a Province

Executive Authority is exercised by the Governor and under Article 105, he shall act in accordance with advice of the cabinet or the Chief Minister.

Appointment and ascertainment of Chief Minister

According to clause 2-A of Article 130, the Governor of a Province invites the member of the Provincial Assembly to be the Chief Minister who commands the confidence of the majority of the members of the Provincial Assembly as ascertained in the session of the Assembly summoned for the purpose in accordance with the provisions of the constitution.

Powers and Functions of Provincial Assembly

There are three major functions or powers of a Provincial Assembly: 1- To make laws. (as laid down in Article 141 and 142 of Constitution Of Pakistan) 2- Manager of the purse of the nation. [as laid down in Article 123 (3)] .3- To keep checks on the policies and practices of the Government. [as laid down in Article 130] .

One of the major functions of the Provincial Assembly is to make laws as provided in Article 141 of the Constitution for conferring of functions upon officers or authorities subordinate to the Provincial Governments, Constitutionally. This function is subject to some limitations.

1. Under Article 142, a Provincial Assembly cannot legislate when an emergency is declared in the country.

2. A Provincial Assembly cannot make law which is against fundamental rights.

3. Principles of policy or rule of law should be the base of each law.

4. A law cannot be enacted if it is not in conformity with the injunctions of Islam.

These are limitations which are imposed both on National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies in the area of law making:

(a) Federal Legislative List and Concurrent Legislative List. - In addition to these limitations, there is one restriction on a Provincial Assembly provided by Article 142, that it can not legislate on matters which do not fall within its preview. However, under the same article, the Provincial Assembly can legislate on matters mentioned in Concurrent Legislative List. But where parliament makes a law in Concurrent Legislative List, and Provincial Assembly also legislates on it, the Provincial law will be void to the extent of the repugnancy with the Federal law.

(b) Residuary List. - But Provincial Assembly has exclusive powers to make law, with respect to any matter not enumerated either in the Federal Legislative List or in the Concurrent Legislative List. Such list is called a Residuary List. Residuary matters are exclusively within Provincial autonomy. From the above, it cannot be extracted that the Province is subordinate to the Federation or Federation is subordinate to Province. In fact, legislative powers are distributed between Federation and Provinces vide Article 142. And one institution cannot take over powers of other institution. However, this provincial law making power comes to an end, and shifts to Federation during emergency when declared vide Articles 232, 233 or 234.

Manager of purse of a nation

The second important function of Provincial Assembly under Article 123 (3) is that it acts as a manager or custodian of the purse of a nation.

Provincial Consolidated Fund

No expenditure from the Provincial Consolidated Fund is deemed to be duly authorised unless it is specified in the schedule so authenticated and is laid before the Provincial Assembly. Provincial Assembly exercises checks over executive through control over the Finance. Article 119 provides custody and withdrawal of money from Provincial Consolidated Fund, (defined in Article 118) and public accounts of a Province, unless it is regulated by the Act of the Provincial Assembly.

Annual and Supplementary Budget statement

Provisions given under Article 120 dealing with annual budget statement and Article 124 dealing with supplementary budget or excess grant become effective, when it is approved by the Provincial Assembly.

Approval of Budgets

Article 122(2) and Article 124 authorise Provincial Assembly to approve or refuse any demand and reduce the amount specified in the demand. Once budget is approved, the Government has no right to deviate from these sanctions. For excess expenditure, Government has to seek regularization from the Assembly. Similarly under Article 88 read with Article 127, accounts and audit reports of the Government are further scrutinized by the public accounts Committee of the Assembly.

To keep checks on the policies and practices of the Government

The significance of Provincial Assembly is that it is a representative institution and keeps checks upon policies, practices and performance of the Government. Article 130 (4) says that the Cabinet shall be collectively responsible to the Provincial Assembly.

Devices of Accountability

Issues relating to Public interest are raised by the Members for discussion in the House in the form of questions, adjournment motions, call attention notices, general discussion, resolutions and various Reports.

The Members make the Executive accountable to the legislature through these devices according to the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, 1997.

Members Support Programme

This programme is in fact meant to effectively serve Members of the Provincial Assembly in different areas. They are provided legislative help in drafting private members bill. They are provided useful and informative books. An Internet facility is also available to them and through surfing they can polish their ideas.

To provide these facilities to the Members, in 1997 the Research and Reference Division was formed in Provincial Assembly of the Punjab. The Library and Computer Sections were made a necessary part of this Division.

In fact, this division was exclusively established with the objectives to provide necessary information and data to the Members when needed and collect up to date data information and data from the resources available.

To attain these objectives, different posts starting from Director (Research & Publications) up to Research Officers were created in the Research Section. It was also formed to provide legislative help to the people representatives like drafting of a bill etc. This service prior to the establishment of Research and Reference Wing was effectively and proficiently performed by Legislation Branch.

Automation Section and Library Section

The primary functions of Library Section are to provide data to the Members and Research Section which is available in the library in form of proceedings of different Assemblies in books and microfilms, electronic multi-media and books of encyclopedias, different reports etc. while Automation Section in collaboration with Research Section helps members to know summary or proceedings on daily, monthly and yearly basis. The information such as Agenda of the proceedings, date of next sitting, schedule of the meetings of the committees and information about Members are available due to installation of the latest PBX. The Assembly Secretariat has stored vital information in the computer and it can be accessible from anywhere round the clock.

Moreover, Research and Reference Division has designed a web page to provide information to the Members about the Assembly Secretariat and proceedings of the Assembly including schedule, agenda and summary of proceedings. This web page also includes rules of procedure of the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab and some other important laws of the country.

However, it can be opined that all efforts accomplished by Research and Reference Division for Members support service will be more effective and useful in future.

Current members

The current members of the Assembly, split by party, are:

References

External links

* [http://www.pap.gov.pk/ Provincial Assembly of the Punjab]
* [http://www.pap.gov.pk/constitu/mconstitu.htm]


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