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Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice passed on Thursday, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021, a private-member bill, moved by Mohsin Dawar, that makes it obligatory on any candidate, who wishes to contest Senate elections, to be enrolled as a voter for the last three years where he/ she is to contest the election from.

The bill seeks to amend Article 62 (1) (c) to provide that a person shall not be qualified for Senate’s membership unless (apart from fulfilling other requirements) he/ she is enrolled as a voter for the last three years in the province or federal capital from where he seeks membership of the upper house of the Parliament.

The NA panel met under the chairmanship of Riaz Fatyana from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

“The role of the Senate is to promote national harmony and to address the concerns of smaller provinces over the dominance of a single province due to a majority in the National Assembly. However, the notion of national harmony – is compromised when a person from outside a province or —federal capital, registers his vote only a day in advance in that province or Islamabad and become member of the Senate,” reads the statement of objects and reasons of the bill.

“This is tantamount to depriving the legitimate residents of a province and Islamabad in an important forum like the Senate. However, it is a matter of record that in order to get a domicile of a province or Islamabad, the constitution stipulates that the person must reside in the province or Islamabad for a period of at least three years. lf a person cannot get the domicile of a particular province or Islamabad before residing there for three years which is used just to represent a province or the Islamabad in government service, then how a person who is not a permanent resident of that province or Islamabad should represent that province or Islamabad in the house like Senate,” the statement adds.

However, the committee rejected another bill: The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021 moved by Dawar which seeks amending Article 59 of the constitution to allocate eight seats in Senate from the quota of erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

The committee also passed The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2021, moved by Naveed Aamir Jeeva from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which seeks amending Article 156 (1) (c) of the constitution to provide that the four members in the National Economic Council (NEC) that the prime minister appoints shall belong to one province each.

The NA panel members including Atta Ullah, Lal Chand, Agha Hassan Baloch, Shunila Ruth, Mahmood Virk, Usman Ibrahim, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Qadir Mandokhail, Naveed Qamar, Aliya Kamran, Ali Gohar and officials concerned attended the meeting.

This report was first published in Business Recorder on Jan 28, 2022.