Bill has to cover two more stages
By M. Ziauddin
Dawn, October 10, 1998
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 9: The CA-15 bill which was passed here on Friday by the National Assembly still has two more stages to cover before it becomes part of the Constitution.
The next stage is its passage through the Senate with a two-thirds majority and in the final stage it will go to the president for his assent.
The Constitution is silent on what would happen to a constitutional bill passed by one house but which does not get a two-thirds majority in the other.
However, since no constitutional bill can go to the president for his assent until it has been passed by a two-thirds majority of the two houses separately, it is assumed by constitutional experts that the bill so rejected by one of the two houses becomes dead automatically
According to these experts, the CA-15 will be considered dead if it fails to get the two-thirds majority in the upper house. The fear that it would not get this backing in the Senate has been expressed by some political observers because at present the government has only 43 votes against the required 58 in the upper house of 87.
However, if that happens, then it would be the first case in the constitutional history of Pakistan, for all the 14 amendments which have been passed so far since the present Constitution was framed in 1973, were successfully piloted by the respective governments through both the houses without much difficulty.
The Constitution is silent on how long one house can take to consider a constitutional bill passed by the other.
In the case of ordinary bills, if a bill passed by one house is not considered by the other within 90 days, it goes to the joint sitting of parliament where only a simple majority is required for it to become law.
Under clause (1) of article 239 of the Constitution, a bill to amend the Constitution may originate in either house and, when the bill has been passed by not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the house, it shall be transmitted to the other house.
According to clause (2) of the same article, if a bill is passed without amendment by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the house to which it is transmitted under clause (1), it shall be presented to the president for assent.
And, under clause (3) of the article, if the bill is passed with amendment by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the house to which it is transmitted under clause (1), it shall be reconsidered by the house in which it had originated, and if the bill as amended by the former House is passed by the latter by not less than two-thirds of its total membership it shall be presented to the president for assent.