Sherry Rehman questions how Ordinances are not being brought to parliament

Islamabad: PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate, Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday said the National Assembly had been in session and till date the HEC ordinance has not been laid in the Parliament.

“According to the Constitution, the presidential ordinance should be laid in the house during the parliamentary session. It is clear that all constitutional obligations are being flouted in Naya Pakistan,” she said.

She added: “The Presidency has become an ordinance factory and the government is hell-bent on destroying the state institutions. Like the HEC & State Bank, one after the other, ordinances that alter the nature of public institutions are being promulgated without recourse to constitutional mandatory obligations to bring them to parliament. One institution, the HEC, is being stripped of its autonomy to become the handmaiden of the government while the other is being given the kind of “autonomy” that makes it above all parliamentary oversight of Pakistan.”

Senator Rehman said, “Despite the parliament being in session the HEC ordinance was not brought to Parliament so the federal government’s decision to sack Chairman Higher Education Commission (HEC) comes as a shock to the system. Under the Second HEC Amendment Ordinance 2021, the term of the HEC chairman has been changed to two-years against the existing four years. This is an attack on HEC’s autonomy”.

“The power to pass an executive ordinance is vested in the President through Article 89 of the constitution only for emergency purposes and if any of the two houses of the parliament are not in session but Ad hoc Sarkar has made presidential ordinances their preferred route for law-making. The PTI government should remember that a presidential ordinance is only valid for 120 days and can only be extended once. How long will they misrule the country like this? How was passing the HEC Ordinance overnight, for example, an emergency situation?” she asked.

Rehman said, “The government is constantly issuing ordinances and bypassing the parliament. State institutions are being destroyed by Tabahi Sarkar and cronies are being awarded with plum institutional offices in complete disregard of rules, quality or merit, removing all remnants of oversight and institutional integrity.”.

 “The country is being run on ordinances, the parliament is being kept in the dark and no one knows what’s going on. No ordinance is being laid in the house for discussion which is a matter of grave concern as it is a flagrant violation of our Constitution,” she added.

Rehman said, “On several key issues they promulgated over 55 Ordinances so far, such as even the PMDC which stands destroyed. All over the country there are protests against such misrule but no voice of the opposition or civil society or stakeholders is heeded. People are now getting desperate and taking all issues that should be settled in parliament to the courts, which is their only resort now, but in this practice, parliament is being rendered powerless. Perhaps that is the plan, as Tabahi Sarkar is uncomfortable with running public issues via parliament. They only throw issues at parliament which they do not want to handle. “

 “There are various judgments of the superior courts which clarify that ordinance-making cannot be used as a ruse to systematically by-pass parliament. In Ikhlas v Noorunnabi (PLD 1958 WP 283), the Sindh High Court held: “The normal legislative authority is parliament. The president’s powers of making ordinances are confined to emergencies which require immediate legislation and which arise when the Assembly is not in session.” There are multiple rulings on this by the Chairman Senate also,” she added.

She said, “HEC is the foundation of our education as it ensures quality. Research, scholarships and grants are under its domain. PTI in its 2018 manifesto had promised to bring reforms in this sector but all they are doing is slashing HEC’ budget and taking away it’s autonomy”.

“We strongly condemn government’s unconstitutional behaviour as they are going way above the law. HEC, PTDC, PIA, Steel Mill and PMDC are all examples of Na Ehl Sarkar’s destruction. There needs to be accountability as the government is answerable to its people,” concluded Vice President PPPP Senator Sherry Rehman.