ISLAMABAD:(APS)November 16, 2016-Senate Standing Committee on law, justice and human rights in its meeting discussed the civil courts (amendment) bill 2016 by Senator Azam Swati and the civil courts amendment bill, 2016 as passed by National Assembly. After detailed discussion the bills were deferred till the next meeting.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Javed Abbasi here at the Parliament House on Wednesday. During discussion on the amendment bill by Senator Azam Swati, which asks for a quota for women judges in the lower courts of the Islamabad Capital Territory, the Secretary Ministry of Law Division told the meeting that out of the total 76 judges in lower courts, 14 judges are female, 35 are male judges while 27 posts are vacant. He said that this percentage is quite sufficient. The ministry was of the opinion that merit should prevail and quota not be applied. The same view was given by representatives of different bar councils.
Senator Saeed Ghani, however, endorsed the bill and said that this quota at the lower level will help women judges come in mainstream. Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini said that some areas of Pakistan have poor education facilities and there should be quota for those. He further said that if we give best possible provisions across Pakistan, we can ask for merit to prevail, but if we are not even giving reasonable provisions, quota should be allowed. The bill was deferred till next meeting to hear the mover of the bill.
Regarding the civil courts (amendment) bill passed by the National Assembly, the committee members agreed that the trials should start from the civil courts instead of high court. However, there was disagreement on the forums for appeal after the civil courts; the district court or directly the high court. The bill was also deferred till the next meeting.
The committee also heard Chairman Pakistan Engineering Council on implementation of Building Codes with special provisions for seismic protection, suggesting penal provisions and mechanism regarding violations. He told the committee that the council has prepared a detailed document which talks about standardizing authority for construction material, monitoring on architectural and structural design, implementation authorities at federal and provincial level, rating of implementation status and the role of CDA, PSQCA, NHA, PHA, PWD and other stakeholders. The document was endorsed by the committee, ministry as well as all stakeholders. PEC will now draft a bill which through Ministry of Science and Technology will be sent to law division for vetting. After vetting the bill will seek cabinet’s approval and will subsequently be moved in either house of the Parliament by the ministry.
The matters relating to Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) referred to the committee by Chairman Senate were also discussed upon in the meeting. Secretary Statistics Tahir Pasha and Chief Statistician Asif Bajwa told the committee that all provinces are duly represented in the governing council of PBS. It was also stated that the body is autonomous in its functioning and financial autonomy is not sought. The law division’s additional draftsman explaining the status of autonomous bodies also explained that the statutory bodies who are related to revenue are not financially autonomous. The committee members agreed that this matter of autonomy and provincial representation needs to debated extensively. The matter will be taken up again in next meeting.