LAHORE - The Punjab Assembly on Wednesday just repeated its one week old history when the government finally agreed to defer the “Prevention of Conflict of Interest Bill” until March this year.

But it made history the same day whey the House unanimously adopted the Domestic Workers Bill whose passage was deferred last week to make it more comprehensive.

Speaker Punjab Assembly Ch Parvez Elahi rightly deserves commendation for setting healthy traditions in Punjab Assembly.

For the first time in Assembly’s history, a new practice of passing unanimous Bills is taking roots in the provincial legislature.

Punjab Assembly on Wednesday saw a rare scene of legislation being done through a unanimous vote, thanks to Speaker’s successful mediation between the Treasury and the Opposition.

Domestic Workers Bill was placed on the agenda of Assembly business last week but the Opposition opposed its passage on the ground that some of its provisions would prove counter-productive.

Convinced by the Opposition’s arguments, the Speaker had persuaded the Law Minister to defer its passage till next week to seek more input from the legislators from the Opposition’s side.

The Law Minister had then agreed to defer the Bill for a week.

This had happened for the first time in the history of Punjab Assembly that government was forced to put off voting on a Bill which ,otherwise, could have easily sailed through the Assembly with majority vote.

In this background, the Assembly took up the Domestic Workers Bill for the second time yesterday, but this time the Opposition had no excuse to oppose it as all its suggestions had been incorporated in the amended draft.

The Speaker declared the Nill as having been passed unanimously.

It was, infact, a legislation brought in the House by the government, but the Opposition has also taken its ownership following Chair’s intervention in the legislation process. 

Now, the same is going to happen with the “Punjab Prevention of Conflict Bill, 2018. When Law Minister Raja Basharat moved this Bill for consideration of the House, the Opposition opposed its passage, citing flaws in certain provisions.

The Chair asserted his authority and asked the Minister to defer it till March next to make it acceptable for the Opposition.

Earlier, when the House was in complete disorder in his absence on the issue of Sahiwal incident, the Speaker averted an anticipated chaos through his successful mediation between the two sides.

Deputy Speaker Sardar Dost Muhammad Mazari was in the chair when the Opposition lodged strong protest in the House.

Opposition lawmakers were in rage as the government had not fulfilled its promise of presenting the JIT report in the House.

They were also furious over reports that government had planned an in-camera briefing for the media ignoring the elected House of over 100 million people. As the Speaker took charge from the Deputy Speaker, he asked the Law Minister to accept Opposition’s demand.

He also ruled that it was a breach of House’s privilege to give an in-camera briefing to the media before the same had not been given to the legislators. 

The Punjab Assembly would now be having its first ever in-camera sitting with Parvez Elahi in the chair on Thursday (today). Since the Punjab government is not taking him into confidence over important issues, this would also be an opportunity for the Speaker to listen to the unofficial but true version of the government on the Sahiwal tragedy.

It is another story, however, that the Punjab government did hold an in-camera briefing for the media on Wednesday in utter disregard of Speaker’s ruling to the contrary.

Additional Chief Secretary Home Department,Fazeel Asghar briefed the media and tried to prove that Zeeshan was a terrorist as he had links with the terrorist groups.

However, he badly failed to satisfy the journalists who gave him tough time through cross-questioning.