The Senate Secretariat on Monday maintained a bill on missing persons that went “missing”—according to then-human rights minister Shireen Mazari—was returned to the National Assembly after being passed by the Upper House with some amendments.
In January 2022, Mazari had claimed the bill on missing persons had gone “missing” from the Senate. The matter gained new relevance last week during proceedings of the Supreme Court amidst ongoing sit-in outside the National Press Club by Baloch protesters seeking an end to enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
In a statement, the secretariat said the missing persons bill had neither gone missing, nor was it still pending with the Upper House. Referring to the apex court proceedings, it said the counsel had alleged the minister’s efforts to get the bill passed were stymied by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. Noting that the Supreme Court had also observed that it would be inappropriate to attend to such allegations, it added: “Still a false impression was created in the media that the bill actually went missing and the Senate chairman or Senate Secretariat had a role in it.”
Stressing this impression was contradicted by factual details, it stated the bill was introduced by then-interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed in the National Assembly on Jan. 7, 2021 and was passed by the Lower House on Nov. 8, 2021. Subsequently, per the Constitution and legal requirements, the bill was sent to the Senate on Nov. 10, 2021, and was tabled in the Upper House on July 29, 2022.
According to the statement, the Senate was not mandated to bring a government bill on the agenda on its own, adding it was referred to the relevant standing committee after tabling in the House. The bill, it said, was passed by the Senate on Oct. 20, 2022 with some amendments.
“Accordingly, in pursuance of Clause (2) of Article 70 of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973 and Rule 125 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate, 2012, the bill was returned to the originating House, i.e. the National Assembly of Pakistan on Oct. 20, 2022,” it said, stressing the factual position “enunciates that the subject bill was never missing and is not pending with the Senate Secretariat.”
Rather, it added, the bill was returned to the National Assembly after passage in the Senate, as required by the Constitution and Rules of the Senate.
Reportedly, the bill was again passed by the National Assembly on Oct. 21, 2022, just a day after the Senate returned it, with an amendment. It was, by all indications, not forwarded to the Senate once more, as required per rules.