In Pakistan, a Bill has to go through a legislative process in each house of the parliament. The whole process is regulated by the constitution of Pakistan and rules of the particular house. For a law to be made or amended, a bill is proposed and presented in the Assembly. “A bill must contain a statement of objects and reasons” (Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, n.d.
). A bill is first introduced and “published in the official Gazette, and the Speaker refers to the Standing Committee concerned, with the direction to submit its report by a specified date.” (Legislative Procedure) In a provincial assembly, “when a Bill has been passed by the Provincial Assembly, it should be presented to the governor for assent.” (Pak.
Const. Sec. 4) The Governor then gets 10 ten days to either assent the Bill or send the Bill back to the Provincial Assembly with a message to reconsider the amendment.
The Provincial Assembly “considers the Bill in three stages, normally called the three readings of the Bill.” (Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, n.d.) In the first reading, the details of the bill are not discussed but, only its principles. “At this stage, the Assembly is required to decide whether or not it wishes to consider the Bill further.
” (Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, n.d.) In the second reading, the Bill is considered clause by clause and “each clause is put to the vote of the Assembly.” (Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, n.
d.) In the third reading, “a motion is moved by the member/minister concerned that the Bill is passed. The Assembly may pass the Bill by a majority of the members present and voting.” (Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, n.d.) Lastly, the Bill is sent to the Governor who shall assent it. After the Governor assents the Bill, “it shall become law and be called an Act of Provincial Assembly.
” (Pak. Const. Sec. 4)The Punjab Pure Food Bill was introduced in the session 16 of the Provincial Assembly of Punjab on 27th August 2015. The bill was primarily passed to amend the Punjab Pure Food Ordinance of 1960 in order to provide an effective and more operative implementation of the law that would be used as the basis of punishing those violating the law. The bill addresses issues related to food consumption and distribution consequently elucidating new measures for monitoring and evaluation of food selling process.
The bill was amended mainly in section 2, 17, 21, 23, 23A, 29, 30, 35 and section 36 of Ordinance VII of 1960 that focused on matters such as substandard and unsafe food, business without license, false advertisement and labeling, punishment for subsequent offence, compensation for injury to consumer et al. Section 31 and 32 of the bill were omitted whereas insertion of sections 35A, 35B, 35C and 35D in Ordinance VII of 1960 were introduced that asked for a new body named Task Force that would help the government in implementing policies for ‘effective enforcement of the Ordinance as well as for monitoring and evaluation purpose’ (The Punjab Pure Food (Amendment) Act 2016, s 35A (3)(b)). The bill was sent to the Food committee on 27th August 2015 session 16 only but the report was laid in session 18, 12th November 2015. On 27th August 2015, Mr. Sher Ali Khan, Minister of Mines and Minerals laid the Punjab Pure Food Amendment Ordinance 2015. The Speaker Sardar Sher Ali Gorchani then requested the Standing Committee on Food to submit the report for the Ordinance within two months.
Mr. Muhammad Arshad Malik presented before the House the reports of Standing Committee on Food for “The Punjab Pure Food (Amendment) Bill 2015 (Bill No.45 of 2015)”.
Legislative ProcedureIn the first reading of the bill on 2nd February 2016, the Bill was moved and there were two amendments in it. Mrs. Khadija Umar moved the bill as recommended by the Standing Committee on Food. The first amendment in the motion was opposed by Rana Sana Ullah Khan, Minister for Law & Parliamentary Affairs. Mrs. Khadija Umar responded by saying that this Bill deals with important issues about the health of the people and we want the punishments in this Bill to be severe and long so that it becomes a lesson for everyone. She recommends the Bill to be handed over to the Select Committee.
After Mrs. Khadija Umar, Dr. Syed Waseem Akhtar took over and said that at the time when the Bill was introduced, only 4 members were present. According to him, this would affect not only the general public but also the sellers.
He says that the media covers news about different sellers being taken into custody over selling impure food but, the media does not cover the news about people who suffer unjustly because of this corruption. He suggests that public opinion should be included over matters where the general public is concerned because the amendment is going to affect different stakeholders, businessmen hence making this Bill open for people to put their constructive criticism. He also proposed that the Bill should be advertised for this purpose. Rana Sana Ullah opposed this suggestion by Dr. Akhtar saying that there is an issue of collecting the public opinion via a proper medium. The constitution also lacks any mandate that would go in favor of including the opinion while formulating the Bill. This motion was thus lost.
Malik Taimoor Masood moved the second amendment of the Bill and requested the Bill to be referred to the Select committee consisting of three members with the instruction on the report. Rana Sana Ullah opposed this amendment. Malik Taimoor Masood refrained from discussing the amendment hence the motion was lost. In the second reading of the Bill, it was read clause by clause. All the clauses except clause 5 were not carried out because the mover demanded the punishments be extended from six months” to one year, “one month” to three months and “one hundred thousand” to two hundred and fifty thousand as occurring in lines 4,5 and 6 in section 23 of Clause 5. Malik Taimoor Masood demanded strict actions in the form of high penalty to be taken against those committing crime for them to learn a lesson. Rana Sana Ullah opposed again pointing out that prolonging the prosecution would not give fruitful because it will give the prisoner enough time to get through the trials. Subsequently, the motion was lost as the law minister opposed the amendment.
The third reading started with Rana Sana Ullah, with the request from the Deputy Speaker passed, the Punjab Pure Food (Amendment) Bill 2015. On 3rd February 2016, Rana Sana Ullah Khan, Minister for Law & Parliamentary Affairs moved the Bill which was passed by the House.