The Governor has the power to dissolve the Provincial Assembly of Sindh, if so advised by the Chief Minister. A Bill passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh becomes a law when it receives the assent of the Governor. The executive authority of the province is exercised in the name of Governor but in practice the Chief Minister and the cabinet exercise actual executive authority.
The Speaker is elected by the members of the Provincial Assembly through a secret ballot. The Speaker becomes an impartial guardian of the rights and privileges of the members of the House and 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 arbitrator, and manage the proceedings in line with the established norms of democracy. The Speaker is required to create a balance between the Treasury and the Opposition benches.
The Tradition of the Speakership
The Speaker’s office is an example of the continuity of democratic traditions. The Speaker enters the assembly’s chamber followed by an attendant who carries the mace, the symbol of the Speaker’s office. Members rise whenever the Speaker enters the Assembly Hall as a mark of respect for the office.
Powers and Functions
- The Speaker decides and recognizes a member who shall address the parliament. There is no accepted method. A member who wants to speak must, as it is called, “catch the Speaker’s eye”, that is, get permission. The Speaker gives permission to the different parties and allows members to voice their opinions before the House. Then the Speaker acknowledges those who have special knowledge of the subject under discussion.
- The Speaker interprets and applies rules, which are called “standing orders” of the parliament. The Speaker’s decision is final. It can be challenged except by tabling a motion of criticism, which is rarely done. Whenever a member raises a point of order, the Speaker has to provide a ruling. If there are several precedents in a case, the Speaker has discretion in giving a new ruling. The Speaker is impartial in giving a ruling.
- The Speaker ensures debates are conducted with dignity and decorum, puts motions and questions to the House, and announces decisions. The Speaker determines which questions are given precedence and only those are put to the ministers. The Speaker also has the power to choose which amendments are placed before the House and prevents the placement of previous questions when satisfied that the minority has had sufficient opportunity to put their views before the House.
- The Speaker casts a vote only in case of a tie, though even then the Speaker acts according to certain established principles. The practice is that the Speaker casts vote to maintain the balance.
After the general election and the election of the Speaker, the assembly elects its Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Speaker, who presides over the House in the Speaker’s absence, has the same powers and performs the same functions as the Speaker.
Leader of the Opposition
The role of the Opposition is vital to the democratic process. The Members of the Assembly who have different views to the way the country should be governed are nevertheless also committed to the same principles laid down in the Constitution. To present these alternative views, a member, elected to serve as the focal point and presenter of such views, is known as the Leader of the Opposition. There are no fixed processes described in Rules of Procedure of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh for the election or the powers and duties of the Leader of Opposition, but the functions listed below have come to be accepted as the norm over time, and are now regarded as part of the Assembly. The Leader of the Opposition enjoys privileges equal to a provincial minister.
The parliamentary opposition bench has the following functions.
- To participate in the deliberations of the Provincial Assembly
- To provide opposing views when it believes government policy to be counterproductive to the best interests of the citizens;
- To oblige the Government, through facts and arguments, to modify policies which are not seen to be serving the public in its best interest;
- To create by its voice in the Assembly, a public platform for citizens’ views that oppose the direction the Government is taking; and,
- To propose an alternative programme to, in the Opposition’s view, best serve the interests of the citizens.
- To encourage the Government to propose amendments to legislation
The opposition provides a counterpart and oversight role for government policies and through debate and exposition can modify or even redirect those policies. The views of the opposition allow the electorate to see different perspectives.
The Chief Minister
After the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the Assembly cannot transact any other business than the election of the Chief Minister. This decision is made in a special session, summoned by the Governor.
(1) Before the commencement of the election, the Speaker shall read out to the Assembly the name or names of the candidates validly nominated in the order in which their nomination papers were received and shall proceed to conduct the election in accordance with the procedure prescribed in the Second Schedule.
(2) If there is only one contesting candidate and he secures the votes of the majority of the total membership of the Assembly, the Speaker shall declare him to have been elected as the Chief Minister; but, in case, he does not secure that majority, all proceedings for the election, including nomination of the candidates, shall commence afresh.
(3) If no candidate secures the votes of the majority of the total membership of the Assembly in the first poll, the Speaker shall conduct a second poll between the candidates who secure the two highest numbers of votes in the first poll and shall declare the candidate who secures the majority of votes of the members present and voting to have been elected as Chief Minister:
Provided that if the number of votes secured by two or more candidates securing the highest number of votes is equal, the Speaker shall hold further polls between them until one of them secures the majority of votes of the members present and voting, and shall declare such candidate to have been elected as the Chief Minister.
- 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/her. The notice for the purpose is given to the Secretary Assembly by not less than 20% 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 from the office.
- A Cabinet of Ministers, headed by the Chief Minister, is formed. The Governor appoints provincial ministers from amongst members of the Assembly on the advice of the Chief Minister. A Minister may also submit his/ her resignation to the Governor. He/ she may also be removed from his office by the Governor on the advice of the Chief Minister.