ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: The National Assembly on Wednesday passed Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Bill 2016 moved by the Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid.
The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says, the existing law relating to appointment of Commissions of Inquiry and empowering them for the purpose in the Pakistan Commissions of Inquiry Act 1956.
The Act has been invoked for setting up fact-finding Commissions on a number of important national issues in the past. However on some matters the need has been perceived for a Commission with greater powers than those that can be conferred under the Act.
The federal government shall by notification constitute a Commission of Inquiry in accordance with provision of the Act. “It is desirable that new law be enacted enabling the government to confer additional powers on a Commission of Inquiry where the nature of the issue is being inquired into so requires,” it said.
The existing law relating to appointment of Commissions of Inquiry and empower them for the purpose is the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Act, 1956. The Commission under the proposed law shall conduct the inquiry and perform its functions in accordance with the terms of reference given in the notification.
The Commission shall have powers of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath and requiring the discovery and production of any documents.
The Commission shall have the powers to order police investigation and shall have the same powers as that of a high court to punish any person who abuses, interferes with or obstructs the process of commission any way or disobeys any order of the commission.
The commission can also initiate contempt of court proceedings if any person scandalizes the Commission or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the commission or a member of the commission in relation to his office into hatred, ridicule or contempt. If the chairperson of the commission is a judge of the Supreme Court, the commission shall have the powers of the Supreme Court for the purpose of punishment for contempt.
The Government by notification can also confer additional powers to the Commission having powers of the criminal court, power to constitute an international team and seek international cooperation from foreign countries or agencies to get information, documents, evidence and record or issue letters.
Any proceeding before the Commission shall deem to be a judicial proceeding within the meaning of sections 193 and 228 of PPC. The final report or an interim report shall be made public provided that the commission may recommend to the federal government that all or any part of the final report or any interim report may not be made public.
The house passed a unanimous resolution to pay homage to former Cuba’s President Fidel Castro.
The House also passed amendments to the National Assembly Rules.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) lawmaker Shazia Marri pointed out the quorum twice but after counting both the time the House was found in order.