Proceedings

III.   First day proceedings of the Provincial Assembly 

  • Oath of Members: After general elections, elected members in the first meeting take oath. Those members who have not taken oath in the first meeting take oath when they attend an Assembly meeting for the first time.
  • Election and oath of Speaker and Deputy Speaker. In addition to oath taking by the members, the Provincial Assembly elects from amongst its members a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. When the office of the Speaker or Deputy Speaker becomes vacant, the Assembly elects another member as Speaker or Deputy Speaker. 
  • The Governor of the Province has the power to call a meeting of the Provincial Assembly. The Governor is also authorized to postpone or discontinue the session. Also the Speaker, on a written request signed by not less than a quarter of the total membership of the Provincial Assembly, can summon it, within 14 days of receipt of the request.

IV.   Number of Sessions and days during a year:
It is specified that there must be at least three sessions of the Provincial Assembly every year, with not more than 120 days intervening between the last sitting of the Assembly in one session and the date appointed for its first sitting in the next session.

The Provincial Assembly must meet for not less than 70 working days in each year.

V.   Duration of the Provincial Assembly
The term of Provincial Assembly in Pakistan is five years unless it is dissolved before that.

VI.   Dissolution of the Provincial Assembly 

  • Dissolution of Provincial Assembly on the advice of the Chief Minister: The Governor is empowered to dissolve Provincial Assembly if advised by the Chief Minister. On the Chief Minister’s advice, the Provincial Assembly can be dissolved within 48 hours.
  • Dissolution of the Provincial Assembly: The Governor can dissolve the Provincial Assembly if the President so advises. This takes place if the Governor is of the opinion, that after a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister has been passed, there is no other member of the Provincial Assembly who can command the confidence of the majority of the members of the Provincial Assembly.

 

Rules of Procedure

At the first sitting of the Assembly after a general election, the Members take an oath before the Assembly. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker preside over the meeting but if he/she is not present then the Governor may nominate from amongst the Members of the Assembly, a Chairman who presides over the session. After the Speaker has been elected by a majority vote, he or she takes on his /her role as an impartial arbiter of all proceedings.

I.   Commencement of a session

  • The Speaker nominates from amongst the Members a panel of not more than four Chairmen, and decides the order of precedence in which order they are to preside during the session only in the absence of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.
  • If at any sitting of the Assembly, the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and all Chairmen are absent, the Secretary informs the Assembly accordingly, consequently the Assembly elects one of its Members that are present to presiding over the session.

A member may give notice in writing to the Secretary to move a resolution seeking a vote of confidence for the Chief Minister. The Secretary circulates the notice to all the Members and the Chief Minister then signs a statement that he/she has consented to move a resolution. The resolution may be taken on any day including a holiday or a non-official day. The Speaker then informs the Governor of the result of the vote.

  • A notice may be given to the Speaker to move a resolution for a vote of no confidence against the Chief Minister,
  • If the resolution is in order it shall be moved by a member, from amongst the members who have signed the resolution;
  • Provided that the voting on the resolution shall be held not less than three days and not more than seven days from the date of its introduction in the Assembly.
  • If the resolution is passed the Speaker will forward a copy of it to the Governor.

II.   Number of Sessions and Order of Business

There are four sessions of the Assembly every year. Every session begins with a recitation from the Holy Quran. The Speaker has the authority to suspend or hold another session if the points of discussion have not been adequately debated or if the matter is decided upon earlier than expected. The Secretary arranges government business to take place in the following order:

  • Bills to be introduced;
  • Resolutions;
  • Bills already introduced

The order of priority for the introduction of Private Bills is determined by ballot. Bills already introduced are to be taken up in the following order:

  • Bills for which the next stage is that the Bill be passed;
  • Bills for which a motion has been carried that the Bill as reported by the Standing or Select Committee be taken into consideration;
  • Bills for which the report of the Standing or Select Committee has been presented;
  • Bills for which the report of a Standing Committee or Select Committee is to be presented;
  • Bills circulated for eliciting public opinion

The precedence of private resolutions is determined by ballot. A resolution not drawn in a ballot is be included in subsequent ballots in the same session of the Assembly. The Secretary prepares a List of Business for each working day for the Members.

III.   Legislation

The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has the power to initiate, pass and amend bills of law. However, a Bill that aims to amend the Constitution cannot be presented to the President of Pakistan for assent unless it is passed by the Provincial Assembly and voted on by not less than two-thirds of its total membership. Constitutional power for introduction and passing of money bills including the annual budget statement has been provided to the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan.

The Provincial Assembly of Balochistan has the power to initiate and pass a motion for the passing the vote of no- confidence against the Chief Minister of the province (only if the majority of the members voting are in favor of the vote of no confidence).

 

Bills

A proposal for law making must reach the Provincial Assembly in the form of a Bill. Bills are of three kinds:

  • Government Bills – introduced by ministers
  • Private Member Bills – introduced by any Member
  • Ordinances proclaimed by the Governor when the Provincial Assembly is in recess, which are then introduced in the Provincial Assembly. The Assembly may then approve or endorse or reject it and sent to Governor for assent.

Every Bill goes through three stages:

  • The first reading stage is a formal stage in which a general discussion on the Bill may take place. However, at this stage a Member may also give notice of moving an amendment.
  • At the second reading stage the general principles of the Bill are debated; though a rejection is possible, but rejections are not common in the case of Government Bills.
  • At the third stage the Bill may be sent to one of the several Standing Committees, by the Speaker, who may hear from Ministers, experts, and debate the Bills, as well as recommend amendments in the Bill. The Standing Committee may even re-write a Bill from scratch.

If a Standing Committee has not proposed any amendment in the Report, the Bill is passed on to the third reading. If amendments are recommended by the Standing committee to a Bill, then they require the assent of the House.

Once a Bill is passed in the House, with or without the amendments, it is sent to the Governor, who has three options within thirty days: he/she can grant assent (convert the Bill into an Act or Law); withhold assent (veto the Bill) with the exception of a money Bill; or return the Bill to the Parliament for reconsideration.

When the Bill has been returned to the Provincial Assembly, it shall be reconsidered by the Assembly and if it is again passed with or without any amendment by the Provincial Assembly through the votes of the majority of the members of the Provincial Assembly present and voting, it shall again be presented to the governor for assent and the governor shall not withhold assent after that.

A Bill pending in the Provincial Assembly shall lapse on the dissolution of the Assembly.

 

The Budget

The Budget is dealt with by the Assembly in the following stages:

  • A general discussion on the Budget as a whole;
  • A discussion on expenditure charged upon the Provincial Consolidated Fund;
  • A discussion on demands for grants;
  • Voting on demands for grants.

A general discussion on the Budget shall last for not more than four days, provided that not more than one day shall intervene between the presentation of the Budget and the commencement of the general discussion.

 

Committees

The Assembly will, during its first Session after the general election, elect Standing Committees for the duration of the Assembly. Each Committee will be representative of every department of the Government, for example there will be a Standing Committee for Food, one for Agriculture, one for Finance and so on. The Standing Committees shall examine legislative proposals with the best interests of their respective departments in mind. They will also follow the Rules of Procedure of Standing Committees meticulously.

  • Each Standing Committee shall consist of seven members to be elected by the Assembly and the Minister concerned as member ex officio.
  • A Committee shall examine a Bill or any matter referred to it by the Speaker or the Assembly and submit a report to the Assembly with its recommendations within the specified period or the period extended by the Assembly

Function

The function of Committees is primarily to,

  1. support Parliament in its role in holding the government accountable for its actions,
  2. scrutinize all decisions of the Government, taking into account the needs of the public and,
  3. to support Ministers in carrying out their responsibilities and improve their management performance, not only as oversight bodies that participate in making policies at the highest levels, but also as representative of the different political parties so that there is a fair and just consideration of those policies.

 

Members of the Provincial Assembly

I.   Qualification and disqualification 
Disqualification can take place on grounds of defection, and it was added in the Constitution in 1997. 

II.   Privileges of members 
Members of the Provincial Assembly are free to voice their opinions. No member can be held accountable for any view expressed or any statement made during Assembly proceedings in any court of law.

 

Leadership

The Speaker and Deputy Speaker

After the first meeting of the Assembly, the members take an oath. Then from among its members the Assembly elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker.

The election is held through a secret ballot, and the members who obtain majority of the votes from the members present in the House are elected as Speaker or Deputy Speaker.

The term of office of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker is the same as that of the Assembly. Once the Assembly is dissolved, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker remain until they are replaced at the following session.

  • Resignation or Removal:
    The Speaker may submit his/her resignation to the Governor, and the Deputy Speaker may do so to the Speaker. The Speaker or the Deputy Speaker may also be removed from office by the majority of the total membership of the Assembly. The Speaker/Deputy Speaker cannot take the chair at the meeting of an Assembly in which a resolution for his/her removal from office is being considered.
  • Functions:
    At the start of each session, the Speaker nominates, in order of precedence, from amongst the members, a panel of not more than four Chairmen to preside over the sittings of the Assembly.
  • The Speaker takes a central position in the Assembly. Although elected as a nominee of a political party, it is assumed that the Speaker will conduct the business of the Assembly in a just and fair manner, as an impartial arbiter, and manage the proceedings in line with the established norms of democracy. The Speaker is required to affect a balance between the Treasury and the Opposition benches.
  • In addition to the functions relating to the conduct of business of the Assembly, the Speaker also performs certain administrative and financial functions under the Constitution and rules. Briefly, the Speaker is required to
    • take the Chair at every sitting of the Assembly at the appointed time
    • call a sitting to order and to conduct business
    • preserve order and decorum, and to enforce decisions
    • suspend or expel a member
    • order the Galleries to be cleared or if any stranger is present he/she can be removed by the Speaker
    • hold a secret sitting of the Assembly
    • delete any remarks from the proceedings of the Assembly, and
    • amend notices and motions. 

In the absence of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker takes the Chair. If the Deputy Speaker is also absent, the Chairman having precedence amongst those present at the sitting, occupies the Chair. In the absence of all three, the Assembly may elect one of the members present to preside at the sitting. 

The Chief Minister

After the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the Assembly cannot transact any other business unless it elects the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister is elected in a special session, summoned by the Governor on a day specified by the President. The Chief Minister obtains vote of confidence from the Assembly within 60 days of assuming office.

  • The majority of the total membership of the Assembly may also remove the Chief Minister by passing a resolution for a vote of no-confidence against him. The notice for the purpose is given to the Secretary Assembly by not less than 20 per cent of the total membership of the Assembly. The Chief Minister no longer holds office after the resolution is passed. The Chief Minister may, by writing addressed to the Governor, resign.
  • A Cabinet of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister, is formed to aid and advise the Governor of his functions. The Governor appoints Provincial Ministers from amongst members of the Assembly on the advice of the Chief Minister. A Minister may also submit resignation to the Governor. A Minister may also be removed from office by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.

Leader of the Opposition

The Opposition within the Assembly has a significant role in the democratic process. The Members of the opposition who have an alternative view of governance to the party in power are also committed to the same principles upheld by the Constitution. A Member, elected to serve as the focal point and presenter of such opposing views, is known as the Leader of the Opposition.

There are no fixed processes described in the Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Balochistan for the election or the powers and duties of the Leader of Opposition, but the functions listed below have naturally come to be accepted as part of the procedures of the Assembly over time.

The parliamentary opposition bench has the following functions:

  • To participate in the deliberations of the Provincial Assembly;
  • To provide opposing views when it feels that government policy is against the best interests of the citizens;
  • To oblige the Government, through facts and arguments, to modify policies which are not seen to be best serving the public;
  • Through its voice in the Assembly, create a public platform for citizens’ views that oppose the direction the Government is taking;
  • To propose an alternative program, in the Opposition’s view, which would best serve the interests of the citizens;
  • It can also influence legislative decisions by encouraging amendments to legislation; and
  • Most significantly the opposition provides a counterpoint and oversight role for government policies. Through debate and exposition it can modify and sometimes even redirect policies. Opposing views also provide the electorate with different perspectives.