Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hectic task awaits first JS session

Over 100 ordinances to be dealt with in 30 days
Shakhawat Liton
The inaugural session of the ninth parliament is set to begin late January or early February next year with unprecedented workload of determining the fates of over 100 ordinances within 30 days of the first sitting.
The next government, which will be formed following the December 29 national ballots, will place before parliament the large number of ordinances promulgated during the rule of the present caretaker government for consideration.
The law ministry on Monday started sending copies of these ordinances to the parliament secretariat for necessary action, an official in the Parliament Secretariat said.
No parliament since restoration of democracy in 1990 had to deal with such a huge amount of ordinances–in fact, they did not have to pass so many laws–in such a short span of time.
In their five-year tenures each, the eighth parliament passed 185 bills in 373 workdays in 23 sessions while the seventh parliament passed 192 bills in 383 workdays in 23 sessions. The fifth parliament passed 170 bills in its tenure of four years and eight months.
Apart from this huge task, the House will also have to elect a new speaker and a deputy speaker on the first day of parliament session as per the constitution, and a new president within 30 days of its journey and hold discussion on the president’s address to be delivered in parliament.
Meanwhile, a crucial question has been raised as to whether the next government will move to indemnify the activities of the current caretaker government to block ways to legally challenge them.
The Awami League and the BNP, which are the main contenders in the coming parliamentary polls, have already announced that they would ratify all “good” activities of the caretaker government.
They, however, did not specify how they would do this.
Legal experts predict that the constitution might need to be amended to validate the present caretaker government’s rule as questions have been raised over its legal validity.
On violation of the constitution for not holding the ninth parliamentary polls within 90 days of dissolution of the eighth parliament, the High Court has already said in a verdict that the next parliament will look into the matter.
On ratification of the new laws promulgated through ordinances, legal experts said the parliament would have to decide their fate very quickly.
If the House does not sit on weekly holidays, it will have 22 workdays to decide the matter. It means the House will have to take decisions on more than four ordinances every day.
If not ratified within 30 days or if parliament passes a resolution within this period disapproving the ordinances, they will cease to have effect.
Legal experts said the new parliament would not have adequate time to properly scrutinise the ordinances.
Eminent jurist Shahdeen Malik said this would be a “physically hard work” for the next parliament.
Moreover, the absence of parliamentary standing committees, which are constitutionally empowered to do the task of scrutinising bills, will create more pressure on the House, the experts added.
If the parliamentary bodies are formed at the beginning of the inaugural session of the next parliament, they could scrutinise the ordinances to be ratified. But the possibility of forming the committees in the first session is very slim.
Previously, the standing committees were formed more than one and a half years after the beginning of parliaments.
In that case, parliament can form a special committee as per the rules of procedure of the House to scrutinise the ordinances until the committee system starts working.
Many political analysts, meanwhile, forecast that the new parliament might not ratify a few ordinances as major political parties that will form the next parliament and government have already opposed them. Some ordinances might also be amended for the same reason.
The stalled ninth parliamentary election is scheduled for December 18 and the Election Commission will require around a week to publish the election results in official gazette.
After publication of the gazette, the president will summon the new parliament session within 30 days in consultation with the prime minister, who will have been appointed by the president by that time.


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