Missing persons’ bill returned to NA, never went missing: Senate Secretariat


Secretariat rejects ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari claim that bill had gone missing from Senate

ISLAMABAD; GEO TV reports: The Senate Secretariat on Monday said that the bill on missing persons was returned to the National Assembly after being passed by the upper house of parliament with some amendments, The News reported.

The secretariat said the bill on missing persons had neither gone missing nor was pending with it.

In January 2022, then-human rights minister Shireen Mazari said the bill had gone missing from the Senate. The issue of the missing person has again been highlighted amid a sit-in staged by protestors in Islamabad seeking the government’s response on the whereabouts of their loved ones.

The secretariat issued its clarification with certain timelines with which it was processed. The statement noted that it was claimed in the apex court that the efforts of the federal minister to get the bill passed were thwarted by the Senate chairman.

It, however, said the Supreme Court rightly noted that it would not be appropriate to attend to allegations made against the Senate chairman. The Senate Secretariat said, “Still a false impression was created in the media that the bill actually went missing and the Senate chairman or Senate Secretariat had a role in it.”

“The preposterous of the bill vanishing or alleged interference by the chairman was contradicted by factual details.” The statement maintained that the bill was introduced by the then interior minister in the National Assembly on January 7, 2021 and was passed by the Lower House of Parliament on November 8, 2021.

It added that as per the Constitution and legal requirements, the bill was sent to the Senate on November 10, 2021. It noted the bill was tabled in the Senate on July 29, 2022 and that it was the prerogative of the government to decide the timing of tabling a bill in the house by placing it on the proposal for the orders of the day provided by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

The statement clarified that the Senate was not mandated to bring a government bill on the agenda on its own and that after tabling it in the house, the bill was referred to the standing committee for consideration and report. The bill was passed by the Senate on October 20, 2022, with some amendments.

“Accordingly, in pursuance of Clause (2) of Article 70 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 and Rule 125 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, the bill was returned to the originating House, i.e. the National Assembly of Pakistan on October 20, 2022,” it explained. The secretariat emphasised that the factual position ‘enunciates that the subject bill was never missing and is not pending with the Senate Secretariat. Rather, it has been returned to the National Assembly after passage in the Senate, as required by the constitution and rules of the Senate’.

It was learnt that factually, the bill was passed by the National Assembly once again on October 21, 2022, just a day after the Senate passed it with amendments and returned it, after removing a controversial section providing for punishment to those filing false complaints. As per rules, after passage of the bill by the NA with amendment, the Senate is required to pass the bill again to pave the way for it becoming an act of the parliament after the president gives his assent to it.