The main functions of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh are described below:
To make laws
This function is naturally subject to certain limitations including:
- The Provincial Assembly cannot legislate when an emergency is declared in the country.
- The Provincial Assembly cannot make laws which are against the fundamental rights of the citizens of the country.
- Principles of policy or rule of law should be the basis for each law.
- A law cannot be enacted unless it is in conformity with the injunctions of Islam.
- The Provincial Assembly cannot legislate on matters which do not fall within its purview, although it can legislate on matters listed in the Concurrent Legislative List. However where parliament makes a law in the Concurrent Legislative List, and the Provincial Assembly also legislates on it, the Provincial law will be void to the extent of the repugnancy with the Federal law.
- Residuary List: The Provincial Assembly has exclusive powers to make laws with respect to any matter not specified either in the Federal Legislative List or in the Concurrent Legislative List. This list is called the Residuary List. Residuary matters are exclusively within provincial autonomy. It is important to note that one institution cannot take over powers of the other institution.
Manager of the purse of the nation
Expenditure can only take place from the Provincial Consolidated Fund if it is authorized by the Provincial Assembly. The Provincial Assembly exercises checks over the executive through control over the Finance.
Approval of Budgets
The Provincial Assembly has the power to approve or refuse any demand in the budget and to reduce the amount specified in the demand. Once the budget is approved, the Government does not have the right to deviate from these sanctions. For excess expenditure the Government has to seek regularization from the Assembly. Audit reports of the Auditor General in respect of Sindh province are further scrutinized by the Public Accounts Committee of the Assembly.
Note that the Provincial Assembly is also a representative institution of the voice of the public and keeps checks upon policies, practices and performance of the Government acting as an oversight body. And the Cabinet is collectively responsible before the Assembly.
At the first sitting of the Assembly after a general election, the members take oath. The Speaker and Deputy Speaker preside over the meeting but if both of them are not present, the Governor may nominate from amongst the members of the Assembly a Chairman who presides over the session.
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.
- 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 Assembly business is classified as government business and private business. The government business is arranged by the Secretary Assembly as conveyed by the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs whereas private business is transacted as following;
- Bills to be introduced;
- Bills already introduced
The order of priority for the introduction of Private Bills is determined by ballot. Bills already introduced are 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.
The Provincial Assembly of Sindh 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 of Sindh 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 Sindh.
The Provincial Assembly of Sindh 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).
A proposal for law making must reach the Provincial Assembly of Sindh 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.
When a Bill is passed by the Assembly, an authenticated copy thereof signed by the Speaker and, in the case of a Money Bill, along with a certificate signed by him under clause (5) of Article 115 of the Constitution, shall be transmitted to the Governor by the Secretary for action under Article 116 of the Constitution.
When a Bill passed by the Assembly is returned by the Governor to the Assembly with a message requesting that the Bill, or any specified provision thereof, be reconsidered or that any amendment specified in the message be considered, the Secretary shall circulate the message to the members and shall also send an intimation to that effect to the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs and to the Minister-in-charge.
The Minister-in-charge or a member may give notice in writing to the Secretary for reconsideration of the Bill or any provision thereof or any amendments suggested therein on the basis of the message.
The Secretary shall, as soon as may be, include the item of reconsideration or consideration, as the case may be, in the List of Business.
On the day on which such a motion is fixed, the Minister-in-charge or the member concerned shall move that the message may be taken into consideration at once.
When the Governor has returned a Bill to the Provincial Assembly, it shall be reconsidered by
the Provincial Assembly and, if it is again passed, with or without amendment, by the
Provincial Assembly, by the votes of the majority of the members of the Provincial Assembly
present and voting, it shall be again presented to the Governor and the Governor shall give his
assent within ten days, failing which such assent shall be deemed to have been given.
A Bill pending in the Provincial Assembly of Sindh shall lapse on the dissolution of the Assembly.
Discussions on the Budget take place 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.
Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, in consultation with the Finance Minister, shall include, in the list of business, the general discussion seeking proposals of the Members for the next budget in a session of the Assembly which is to be held during the months of January to March each year.
The general discussion on budget proposals shall take place for at least five days during the session.
The Assembly may recommend the proposals to the Government for the next budget on a resolution moved by the Finance Minister after the conclusion of the discussion.
Notwithstanding anything contained in these rules, the Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, in consultation with the Finance Minister, shall include, in the list of business, the general discussion on releases and utilization of budget, on quarterly basis.
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.
The function of Committees is primarily to:
- a) support Parliament in its role in holding the government accountable for its actions,
- b) scrutinize all decisions of the Government, taking into account the needs of the public and,
- c) 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.
A Committee shall examine a Bill or other matter referred to it by the Assembly and shall submit its report to the Assembly with such recommendations, including suggestion for legislation, if any, as it may deem necessary.
In the case of a Bill, the Committee shall also examine whether or not the Bill violates, disregards or is otherwise not in accordance with the Constitution.
The Committee may propose such amendments as are within the scope of the Bill, but the Committee shall have no power of preventing the Bill from being considered by the Assembly.
The amendments will be shown in its report along with the original provisions of the Bill.
A Committee may, with the approval of the Speaker, appoint a sub-committee, for a specified function arising out of the matter referred to the Committee.
If a Committee does not present its report within the specified period, or within the extended period, if any, the Bill or the matter referred to it may, on a motion by a member, or a Minister, be considered by the Assembly without waiting for the report.
A Committee may examine the expenditures, administration, delegated legislation, public petitions and policies of the Department concerned and its associated bodies, and may forward reports of findings and recommendations to the Department and the Department shall submit its reply to the Committee within a period of two weeks.
A member who remains absent from the three consecutive meetings without a valid reason, his seat as a member of that Committee shall become vacant.
COMPOSITION OF STANDING COMMITTEES:
Each Standing Committee shall consist of eleven members to be elected by the Assembly.
The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary concerned shall be ex-officio members of the Committee.
The member-in-charge of the Bill, and in the case of any other matter referred by the Assembly to the Standing Committee, the member who has proposed the subject or matter for reference to, or study by, the Committee, may attend the meetings of the Committee but shall not vote unless he is an elected member of the Committee.
The Secretary of the Department concerned and the Secretary of the Law & Parliamentary Affairs Department or an officer designated by each of them in this behalf shall attend the meeting of a Committee as expert advisers.
Select Committee on Bills.
Public Accounts Committees.
Committee on Rules of Procedure and Privileges.
Committee on Government Assurances.
Business Advisory Committee.
A private member who wishes to move a resolution shall give seven days’ notice and shall submit together with the notice a copy of the resolution which he intends to move.
A Minister who wishes to move a resolution shall give three days’ notice and shall submit together with the notice a copy of the resolution which he intends to move; provided that a resolution shall not be moved on private members’ day.
The right to move a resolution shall be subject to condition that the resolution –
- shall be in the form of a declaration of opinion of the Assembly;
- shall relate to a matter which concerns Government; provided that a resolution recommending to a Government, to approach the Federal Government in a matter which is not a concern of Government shall be admissible;
- shall be clearly and precisely expressed and shall raise substantially one definite issue;
- shall neither contain arguments, inferences, ironical expressions or defamatory statements nor it shall refer to the conduct or character of a person except in his official or public capacity;
- shall not relate to a matter which is under adjudication by a Court of law having jurisdiction in any part of Pakistan;
- shall not contain a reflection on the conduct of President, Governor, a Judge of the Supreme Court or a High Court;
- shall not raise discussion on a matter pending before any statutory Tribunal or statutory Authority performing any judicial or quasi-judicial functions or any commission or court of enquiry or a matter in respect of which any Minister raises any objection on the ground that it is detrimental to the public interest.
On the conclusion of the discussion, the Speaker shall put the resolution or, as the case may be, the resolution as amended, for the vote of the Assembly and if passed by the Assembly, a copy thereof shall be forwarded to the Department concerned or, as the case may be, to the Federal Government or the National Assembly.
The Department concerned shall, within a period of one month from the date of communication of the resolution by the Assembly Secretariat, apprise the Assembly of the action taken on the resolution.
If the Department concerned fails to apprise the Assembly within the period as mentioned in sub-rule (2), it shall be deemed to be a breach of privilege of the motion moved by the Minister or any member, the matter shall be referred to the Standing Committee on the Rules of Procedure and Privilege to examine and report.
Except as otherwise provided in these rules, the first hour of every sitting, after the recitation from the Holy Quran and Naat Shareef and the swearing in, of members, if any, shall be available for asking and answering of questions.
Not less than fifteen clear days notice of a question shall be given unless the Speaker, with the consent of the Minister concerned, allows a question to be asked at shorter notice:
Provided that if the consent of the Minister is not received within seven days from the receipt of the communication, the Speaker may admit a short notice question if he is satisfied that it is a matter of urgent public importance.
Subject to the provisions of these rules, a question may be asked for the purpose of obtaining information on a matter of public concern within the special cognizance of the Minister to whom it is addressed.
Not more than three starred questions including short notice questions and three (03) unstarred questions from the same member shall be placed on the List of Questions for a sitting:
Provided that nothing in this rule shall apply to a question postponed or transferred from an earlier date or to another department.
Not more than thirty-five (35) starred questions shall be placed on the List of Questions for a sitting and the remaining questions mature for answers, if any, shall be taken over to the next day allotted for the Department concerned.
The questions shall be placed on the List of Questions in the order in which their notices are received, but a member may, by notice in writing given at any time before the sitting for which his question has been placed on the said List, withdraw his question.
A member may, with the consent of the Speaker, call the attention of the concerned Minister to any matter involving the law and order situation in the Province, through a ‘Call Attention Notice’.
The ‘Call Attention Notice’ shall be in the form of a question addressed to the concerned Minister
and shall be given in writing to the Secretary not less than forty-eight hours before the commencement of the sitting on the day on which it is proposed to be fixed.
A member may, with the consent of the Speaker, raise a question involving a breach of privilege either of a member or of the Assembly or of a Committee.
(1) A member wishing to raise a question of privilege shall give notice in writing to the Secretary not less than one hour before the commencement of the sitting on the day the question is proposed to be raised.
(2) If the question raised is based on a document, the notice shall be accompanied by the document.
(3) The Speaker may, if he is satisfied about the urgency of the matter, allow a question of privilege to be raised at any time during the course of a sitting after the question hour.
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.