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Senate approved 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017

20 December, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The last hurdle in the conduct of timely elections in the country was removed on Tuesday with the approval of the 24th Constitutional Amendment Bill 2017 by the Senate for fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of provisional census results.

Eighty-four members voted in favour of the amendment while one belonging to PML-Q – Senator Kamil Ali Agha – voted against the bill. The bill was introduced in the House by Minister In-charge of Law and Justice Sheikh Aftab.

Following the passage of the bill, Punjab will lose nine seats in the National Assembly while Islamabad will get one, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa five, and Balochistan three more seats in the Lower House. The NA seats for FATA and Sindh will, however, remain unchanged.

The National Assembly had already passed the bill last month. The Senate was unable to vote on the bill on November 17 when it was first tabled in the Upper House as several legislators had remained absent from the session, with only 58 of the 104 senators present on that day. The bill was again placed on the Senate’s agenda on November 20. However, the absence of lawmakers had once again delayed voting on the bill. Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq had sought deferment for two days and the bill was placed on the Senate’s agenda for November 22 but the House again failed to carry out voting on it.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani read the clauses of the bill, during which the House was open to questions from the lawmakers. Senator Hafiz Hamdullah asked about reasons for delay in tabling of the bill, saying that the reservations of the political parties had already been removed in the Lower House of parliament.

It is worth noting that two-thirds majority in the Senate, having a total strength of 104, was required to get the constitutional amendment passed. The government had developed consensus with main political parties in the House to attain the required strength of 69 members. The bill seeks to carry out fresh delimitation of constituencies on the basis of officially published census results. It asks to allow delimitation for the general elections 2018 on the basis of the provisional results of the 6th population and housing census. The amendment sought in Article 51 (5) will allow reallocation of seats as per provisional census results.

The existing Article 51 (5) requires that the “seats in the National Assembly should be allocated to each province, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the federal capital on the basis of population in accordance with the last preceding census officially published”.

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