* Rabbani presents 100 recommendations for restoration of 1973 constitution including those for repeal of LFO 2002 and 17th Amendment

ISLAMABAD: Raza Rabbani, chairman of the parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms, tabled in parliament on Tuesday the 18th Amendment Bill, which seeks to empower the prime minister in line with the 1973 Constitution, envisages a participatory federal system and proposes new safety valves to discourage military coups in the future.

The parliamentary committee on constitutional reforms has proposed more than 100 amendments in the constitution, including those for the repeal of the LFO of 2002, the 17th Amendment and the Sixth and Seventh schedules of the constitution and the abolishment of the concurrent list. The amendments also seek to lift the bar limiting tenures in the offices of the prime minister and chief ministers to not more than two.

The reforms committee has dedicated the 61-page document to former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. “It is a bill of hopes... this is a bill of people’s emancipation, this is a bill of federal Pakistan, this is a bill guaranteeing rights of provinces... this bill ensures supremacy of parliament,” said Rabbani while tabling the draft in parliament amid lawmakers’ applause.

Highlighting the proposals of the committee, Rabbani said while a few subjects in Federal Legislative List I were to be transferred to Federal Legislative List II, the concurrent list would be abolished and the Sixth and Seventh schedules repealed.
The committee has proposed the substitution of Article 59, and recommended that the strength of the Senate be increased to 104 members. Rabbani said the committee had proposed the substitution of Article 51, according to which there would be 342 seats for members in the National Assembly.

The draft proposes the substitution of Article 70 with ‘Introduction of Passing of Bills’, which says “a bill... may originate in either House and shall... be transmitted to the other House, and if the bill is passed without amendment by the other House also, it shall be presented to the president for assent... bills not passed within ninety days... shall be considered at a joint sitting of parliament”.

Amending Article 89, the draft says the president would not promulgate an ordinance if any of the two Houses is in session. Once an ordinance is promulgated, it would stand repealed after 120 days. The period may be extended by another 120 days if a resolution is passed by parliament before the expiry date.

Changes in Article 127 seek that provincial assemblies remain in session for 100 days instead of 70 during a parliamentary year, while an amendment to Article 61 proposes the Senate remain in session for 90-110 days.

The committee has proposed in Article 168 that the auditor general hold office for a term of four years.

An amendment to Article 48 says the president must announce a date for general elections within 90 days of the dissolution of the National Assembly. Also, if at any time, the prime minister considers it necessary to hold a referendum on any matter of national importance, he may refer the matter to a joint sitting of parliament for approval. Caretaker chief ministers are to be appointed by the outgoing government and the opposition.

Source: Daily Times