By: Sajid Zia
LAHORE: Apparently to pay homage to the former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto on her fifth death anniversary but actually taking advantage of the thin Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, the Government on Thursday approved seven bills to empower women.
The government also okayed two another bills, making a total of nine that were all passed in a hurry Though PPP’s Ahsanul Haq Lolatia, one of the four members on the Opposition benches, resisted the move, her objection were overruled by Treasury through majority vote.
In the course of passage of the bills, quorum was twice pointed incomplete, which the Treasury managed to complete on both occasions. While bills were being given repeated reading by the Deputy Speaker Rana Mashood Ahmad Khan, who presided over four-hour long session, due interest by the Treasury remained absent which exuded seriousness they attack to law making.
Besides this heavy legislation, the House on both side of the divide stood united to carry resolutions to pay tribute to the slain Premier Benazir Bhutto on her services for democracy, struggle for the rights of the women, her political insight and services for the nation and the country. The resolution read out by Law Minister Rana Sanaullah condemned the terrorist act which took life of Benazir Bhutto on December 27, 2007 and a posed a serious query to the Federal Government why it failed to identify and track down her killers despite elapse of five years since the PPP was in rule.
While approving the resolution, the House extended the demand to the government for arrest and due punishment to the Benazir killers terming it essential to curb recurrence of such incidents and wipe off terrorism.
While paying respect to BB, Rana Sana also took pride that the government was carrying forward Benazir’s mission to bolster social and economic status of the women has passed seven bills which exclusively protect women rights of inheritance in property, education, protection against harassment and right to immovable property. The House also entertained other two resolutions which related to the women. First wanted an undertaking by would-be couple in the nikkahnama to endorse they are thalassemia-free so that their child do not carry effects of this disease while the other, sought inclusion in the school syllabus a chapter to educate the girls on reproductive health. The decision of this resolution was pended for consideration by the education department.
The House with the majority passed four bills which related to the appointment of Vice Chancellor in women Universities in Multan, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Bahwalpur giving them a real kick-start to make them functional. The identical bills set 65 year and below age limit for the Vice Chancellor and the test of his qualifications, experience, and other requirements by a Search Committee comprising three to five members. The committee will recommend three persons for this post to the Government which will pick up one and send the same to the Chancellor (the Governor) who would appoint him for a period of four years. The Committee will follow the criteria which the government will set for the VC.
An important bill which protected women rights of inheritance and warded off lengthy litigation in the way of their share in a joint property. Tilted the Punjab Land Revenue (Amendment) Bill 2012, the law has made the Revenue Officer to decide a case of partition of joint holding within 180 days( six months). And if he is unable to do so by any reason, the case will be submitted to the District Collector within 15 days prior to the expiry of the said period.
Similarly, the Court of law will also decide the property cases within six months and on failing, the case will be sent to the District Judge. The Court will set a joint property to auction among the co-owners if any of them will object to partition. And if the successful co-owner fails to pay the price, another auction will be held disallowing that co-owner from taking part.
The law is also a direction to the Revenue Officer to at once treat all the pending cases under the new legislation. The other Bill tilted the Punjab Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Work Place (Amendment) 2012 provided for the working women against any sexual and other harassment, intimidation or harm to them at the public and the private working places. For addressing the grievance, Ombudsman of the rank of a High Court judge has been appointed while amendments have also been made in the Industrial Relations Act to facilitate them advance their case and make it out. All the said laws have been made within the spirit of Women Empowerment Package the Punjab Government announced on March 8 last to protect the basic right of the women.
The eighth legislation tilted the Punjab Motion Pictures (Amendment) Bill, has devolved the Central powers to the provincial in relation to censorship and clearance of the movies. The ninth bill titled the Punjab Government Housing and Town Planning Agency (Amendment) Bill 2012, pertained to absorption of the employees in the Agency, which has been carved out Housing and Physical Planning Department as a separate entity. The law protected right of service of the employees of the Agency.
On an adjournment motion Shaikh Allauddin slammed trade with India saying; so far it has cost $2.5billion while India traders were not ready even to purchase our surplus potatoes.
“It is time for us to think why we are eating so expensive fruit and vegetables of India when we have many alternatives to them. By restricting India items, we can save huge forex which otherwise was going to India without any benefit to Pakistan. The session was adjourned for today.