Pak`s parliament passes key constitutional amendment bill

Pakistan`s parliament passed a key constitutional amendment bill dealing with the process for appointments in the superior judiciary and aimed at resolving differences between the judiciary and the executive.

Islamabad: Pakistan`s parliament on Wednesday
passed a key constitutional amendment bill dealing with the
process for appointments in the superior judiciary and aimed
at resolving differences between the judiciary and the
executive.

The 19th Amendment Bill was passed in the National
Assembly or lower house of parliament with 258 votes in favour
and one against.

The bill envisages the addition of four senior judges
in the judicial commission for appointments to the superior
judiciary. It also includes the Islamabad High Court in the
superior judiciary.

The House passed the bill through a division of votes
made to determine the number of votes in favour and against
the amendment.

When the bill was presented in the House for
consideration, a total 239 members voted in favour of it while
PML-Q lawmaker Kashmala Tariq voted against it.

However, during the clause-by-clause reading of the
bill, Tariq opposed none of the clauses.

Raza Rabbani, the chairman of the parliamentary panel
that drafted the bill, told the House that the Supreme Court
passed an order on October 21 that sought the reconsideration
of several provisions of the 18th Constitutional Amendment
Act.

Every reservation expressed by the apex court was
considered by the panel, he said.

He said the 19th Amendment Bill gives effect to
certain changes in the constitution after considering the
Supreme Court`s observations and related matters.

The fresh amendments seek changes in a two-pronged
mechanism for appointing judges in the superior courts in
light of proposals forwarded by the Supreme Court, he said.

The report of the Parliamentary Committee on
Constitutional Reforms increased the number of members of a
judicial commission formed for appointments under the 18th
amendment, Rabbani said.

Pakistan`s top political leadership has dispelled
fears of a confrontation among state institutions as the lower
house of parliament was prepared to amend the constitution for
the second time in a year in compliance with a Supreme Court
order, he added. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, while addressing
the House, described the passage of the 19th Amendment Bill as
a "very big decision" by Parliament that reflected that the
government’s respect for the judiciary.

He said the bill will pave the way for future
legislators to avert any clash of institutions.

"We have proved that we respect the judiciary," Gilani
said.

President Asif Ali Zardari, currently on an official
visit to Turkey, said in a message that democracy had been
strengthened with the passing of the bill by the National
Assembly.

The bill will now be sent to the Senate or upper house
of parliament.

PTI