ISLAMABAD - A PPP lawmaker yesterday in the Senate asked for a larger parliamentary debate on August 5 judgment of the Supreme Court which says it could strike down or review a constitutional amendment as the powers of the parliament to amend the Constitution were limited.

PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar also called for a parliamentary debate on the Supreme Court’s verdict calling for consulting the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) in the appointment of the chairman and members of the Federal Service Tribunal (FST).

Speaking on his motion, Farhatullah Babar called for a debate on August 5 judgment of SC on the 18th constitutional amendment what he said so as to raise a respectful but powerful voice to protect the domain of the parliament which was fast eroding.

About the SC verdict regarding FST, he said: “Neither the Constitution nor the 1973 FST Act provided for consultation with the CJP in the appointments of its chairman and members.”

Law making, he said, is the prerogative of the Parliament and not of any other state organ. That the Supreme Court can review legislation on the touchstone of the Constitution is settled practice but to ask the parliament to make a law for which there was not provision in the Constitution was another matter.

However, Federal Minister Zahid Hamid said that the government had completed the legislation and appointed FST chairman afterwards but a question was raised before the SC. The SC has decided to constitute a larger bench over the issue and the matter is subjudice so we should wait for the court’s decision, he added.

Separately, Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani asked the Advisor to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz to take the house into confidence and brief it about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Pakistan as well as Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif’s visit to Afghanistan.

The advisor was asked to brief the house on Tuesday [today] after PPP Senator Sehar Kamran raised the issue. She underlined that Indian PM met with PM Nawaz Sharif at his residence though it should have of taken place at the Governor House.

On another motion, former interior minister PPP Senator Rehman Malik asked the government to introduce new strict legislations to end human trafficking and human smuggling in the country following some remarks that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had failed to stop this illegal business.

While taking part in the debate, the former interior minister said that there were syndicates of human smuggling in Pakistan and Iran but the issue was that culprit were not punished due to weak laws in this regard. There is a need to review the laws, he said. “I request the ministries of interior, law and Bureau of Emigration to review laws for strict punishments to culprits of human smuggling and trafficking,” he said.

Taking part in the debate, Senator Jehanzeb Jamaldini said that FIA and other security agencies had completely failed to stop human smuggling. He pointed out different routes from Pakistan for this illegal business and said that people were being smuggled to Greece and Italy through Iran. Mohsin Aziz and Usman Kakar described poverty as the main reason behind this.

State Minister for Interior Baleegur Rehman concluding the debate said that the government had recently started a camping to stop this menace and some 250 raids were conducted in the country. “FIA has registered hundreds of FIRs besides confiscation of passports from human smugglers,” he said, adding that 329 such smugglers and 10 most wanted human smugglers had been arrested during this campaign. He said that FIA was the lead agency and keeping an eye on the 26 entry exit points of the country. The relevant laws are also being revisited, he said

Winding up the debate on another motion, Baleegur Rehman said that at present the circular debt of the country stood at Rs310 billion rupees till October 31. He said that the government had focused that power consumers would not affect due to this debt.

The house made three major amendments in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Senate 2012. Under an amendment, a new Committee on Delegated Legislation of the Senate would be constituted to scrutinise whether rules framed by the government were in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution or any Act of the Parliament. Under another amendment, the senators would be able to give questions and call attention notices and adjournment motions through emails. Similarly, the private member’s business except a bill transmitted to the NA after its passage from the house, shall lapse if he is appointed Chairman or Deputy Chairman Senate, minister or cease to be a member of the house.

The house passed a unanimous resolution that recommends that the government should evolve a mechanism to take care of the families of martyrs of terrorists’ incidents and provide them reasonable financial assistance on monthly basis.