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With ‘controversial’ changes: G-B Assembly passes amended services tribunal law

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GILGIT: The Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Legislative Assembly on Thursday passed the controversial Amended Services Tribunal Law, 2014 amid opposition by some lawmakers.

HunzaNews , June 6th, 2014.

The assembly had passed the original services tribunal law two years ago after which G-B Governor Pir Karam Ali Shah signed it on February 21, 2014, officially establishing the first services tribunal of G-B. Through an ordinance, former bureaucrat Hafizur Rahman was made the tribunal’s chairman while district judge Khurshid Alam and another former bureaucrat Fida Hussain were made members.

However, the governor referred the law to the assembly on Thursday suggesting that certain amendments be made. The changes suggested by the governor include changing the age limit for the tribunal’s members.

Before the session, lawyers distributed a hand-written request to lawmakers asking them not to endorse the amendments.

“A highly controversial bill has been tabled in a mysterious way and you are requested not to endorse it in the interest of the public,” stated the note, distributed by leaders of various local bar associations.

Inside the house, Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Mirza Hussain and Minister for Finance Muhammad Ali Akhtar opposed the amendments, saying it amounts to making the law subservient to individuals.

“Instead of making individuals subservient to the law, the governor wants to do the opposite,” said Hussain during the assembly session on Friday chaired by Speaker Wazir Baig. He accused the governor of planning to use the tribunal’s members for vested interests.

Hussain said it was not possible for a bureaucrat-turned judge (tribunal chairman) to oppose decisions made by the chief secretary or other senior government figures.

He asked the speaker not to rush the amendments and give time to lawmakers to discuss the changes with legal and political experts.

“There are so many laws that have been passed by the assembly and are pending with the governor for approval but he is interested in only this particular legislation,” he said.

Minister for Law Ali Madad Sher remarked that members should have discussed and objected to the ‘controversial’ clauses when the law was tabled in the assembly almost two years ago. “The opportunity has been lost as the law has been passed by this house,” he said, urging lawmakers to endorse the amendments to enable the tribunal’s office bearers to start their work.

The house then passed the law with a majority following which it will be sent to the governor for his final endorsement.

Talking to reporters after the session, lawyers said the governor wanted to bring in relaxations through the amendment to accommodate men of his choice in the tribunal.

Express Tribune

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