ISLAMABAD: Sub-committee of the Standing Committee on Information Technology & Telecommunication met here on Tuesday to discuss in detail Electronic Transaction (Amendment) Bill 2019 moved by Syed Fakhar Imam in the National Assembly with the aim of clearing the distinctions between the principles and rules.
The convener of the sub-committee Makhdoom Zain Hussain Qureshi also invited members of the legal department and the law and justice department to take part in the debate wherein the lawmakers deliberated a change in the law-making process as well reduce the dependence on the federal cabinet for finalising rules and regulations.
According to the bill, the formulation of rules and regulations should be made the job and authority of the respective minister-in-charge in line with the democratic structure.
To elaborate further, there are hundreds of principles – or more legally appropriate bills and ordinances – that have been put into Pakistan’s law without the establishment of any following rules of how to implement those laws. As per the members of the committee approximately 60 per cent of the laws in Pakistan have not been put into applicable laws.
Imam said that most of the laws that are even interpreted into rules are “ad infinitum” meaning that there is no time limit set on them for renewal or worthy of revisiting. This has not only created a culture of complacency but has also given way to resistance in law-making any other way than having the cabinet to make the final decision.
Lawmaker Kanwal Shauzab said that the Defence Committee had just proposed a suggestion and got it approved that entails passage of laws and regulations even without the interference of cabinet, in cases when the matter in concern is not of sensitive nature.
Syed Fakhar Imam said: “If we were like another parliamentary government we would not have to run to the Supreme Court for every law. Everywhere else in the world it’s convention-practice-convention, but we are still in the same loop of having the cabinet or the court to make laws.”
He said that in Pakistan Principal Accounts Officers (PAO) have the final authority to release funds and they are then made accountable through audits. However, even audits of these PAOs take decades to come out and nowhere else in the world this much delay happens, and that too in such sensitive cases. “No functioning democracy has as old an audit coming though as us.”
Speaking about the need to redefine laws and come up with implementable and enforceable rules and regulations, lawmaker Sher Ali Arbab said, “I believe we should also have a debate that on what grounds has the Chief Justice of Pakistan asked DPOs to personally escort him on his visits.”
In response to the discussions about lawmaking and cabinet’s role in the final formulation of rules and regulations, Naveed Khan said, “There is a General Clause Act and the proposed amendments may be made in the language and implementation of that act instead of having to amend each and every law individually.”
Syed Fakhar Imam requested the reading of the said act, and afterward requested the committee to give him time so that he can consult with his legal advisers independently before filing the final recommendations to the Standing Committee on IT.
Shauzab said, “We do need some cleaning in the rules and regulations especially considering the over legislation we have done.” Zain Qureshi concluded the sub-committee session with the statement “We don’t want to jump the bandwagon. We want to try and at least be open to it [proposition to change processes of law-making”.