Senate panel stiffens law to protect MPs from arrests

The Standing Committee on Parliamentary Affairs passed on Monday a bill to protect parliamentarians from arrests or detentions in any crimes.

The committee, which met here with Senator Taj Haider in the chair, passed the bill regarding the privileges and exemptions to the members of the Senate and the National Assembly. According to the text of the bill, no parliamentarian can be arrested eight days before the NA or Senate session.

The bill links the arrest of a parliamentarian to the permission granted by the National Assembly speaker of the Chairman Senate. It also makes the issuance of the production order of the arrested member mandatory for NA or Senate sessions, as well as meeting of the house committees.

The committee reviewed the Privileges of Members of Parliament Bill moved by Senator Raza Rabbani. Rabbani told the committee that members of parliament were kept in custody to fulfil political agenda. He mentioned that he had already written a letter to the speaker and the chairman on this matter.

The parliamentary affairs secretary said that the National Assembly had already amended its rules in this regard, therefore, the Senate could also amend the rules. However, Senator Raza Rabbani stressed that that amendments to the rules was not enough rather an act of parliament would be enacted.

Later, the committee approved the bill presented by Senator Rabbani along with necessary amendments suggested by Senator Ali Zafar, Senator Waleed Iqbal and the parliamentary affairs secretary.

The committee also discussed the dismissal of employees of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA). The chair noted that at present both the posts of chairman and deputy chairman of ERRA were lying vacant.

Senator Afnanullah Khan said that the matter should be referred to the committee on privileges. The committee decided to inform the prime minister on this matter.

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