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‘Transport’ among several bills okayed in 2nd reading Parliament turns down request to lift MP Azmi’s immunity

 KUWAIT CITY, June 10: The Parliament approved several bills and recommendations on Tuesday; including the proposed establishment of the Public Authority for Transport in its second reading with 32 votes in favor, 10 against and one abstention.

During deliberations on the bill, the Parliament rejected the proposal of the government to put internal roads under the jurisdiction of the authority rather than the Ministry of Public Works. It also voiced objection to the suggestion of the government to allow board members of the authority to work for another institution. On the other hand, the Parliament endorsed the proposal for the authority’s board of directors to meet four times annually and the call for a meeting should be made either by the chairman or four members.

Public Works Minister Abdul Aziz Al-Ibrahim pointed out that although the government respects majority opinion, it is sure the proposed authority will inherit problems of the ministry due to the Parliament’s refusal to put internal roads under the authority. In another development, the Parliament also approved the second reading of a draft bill on adding a new article (29-repeated) to law number 47/1993 on Housing Care in order to allow citizens, who sold their house and fully paid their housing loans, to submit another housing care application. Another bill approved during the session was the second reading of the proposed amendment to Article One of decree law number 201/1981 on the establishment of a circuit in the Supreme Court to look into administrative disputes.

The bill was approved with 30 votes in favor, eight against and one abstention. Commenting on the issue, State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Al-Abdullah Al-Sabah confirmed that the government and Higher Judicial Council are against the bill; while MP Yakoub Al-Sanei stressed the importance of the bill to stop injustice. Moreover, the Parliament endorsed the request presented by some MPs towards the end of the session to clarify the government’s stand on recommendations related to the status and preservation of heritage and historical place. In the meantime, the Parliament turned down the request of the Public Prosecution to lift the immunity of MP Hamdan Al-Azmi but approved that of MP Nabil Al-Fadel to face press misdemeanor charges.

On another issue, the Parliament agreed to postpone until the next legislative round deliberations on the request of some MPs to form a committee to look into the alleged violations in the distribution of agricultural land in Wafra to give the government enough time to complete its investigation in this regard. Furthermore, the Parliament discussed report of the Legal and Legislative Committee on the proposed amendments to the Supreme Constitutional Court Law. Parliament Speaker Marzouq Al- Ghanem gave the seat to his deputy, MP Mubarak Al-Khrainej, because the former is one of the proponents of the bill which he described as historic but it has remained a dream for six years. He said approval of the bill has been delayed due to differences in opinion, indicating he had earlier referred it to a constitutional expert who studied and drafted the current version.

He added the Constitution guarantees everyone’s right to sue, quoting the late constitutional expert — Othman Abdul-Malik — as saying any law which prohibits anyone from resorting to the Constitutional Court is incomplete and flawed. If the proposal is approved, the 50 MPs, 16 ministers and those who are against it can no longer undermine anyone’s constitutional right. The amended version of the bill also stipulates surety of KD5,000 instead of KD20,000; in addition to the establishment of a consultative office and regulations, Al- Ghanem explained. He said he knows that the Higher Judicial Council does not support the bill, “but I want to clarify that we respect the judicial authority. After passing this law in its first reading, some amendments can still be made in the second reading. Any person can then go to the Constitutional Court if he feels his freedom has been violated. Countries with deep-rooted democracy have granted their citizens the right to resort to the higher constitutional court.” In reaction to the statement of the speaker, State Minister for Cabinet Affairs Sheikh Mohammed Al- Abdullah Al-Sabah asserted the Higher Judicial Council has many reservations on the bill. He pointed out that the United Kingdom and the United States of America do not allow anyone to directly appeal to the Supreme Court unless the lower courts have looked into the case. He added the government is against the bill just like the council; hence, its demand for postponement of discussions in this regard.

The deputy speaker had to adjourn the session for 15 minutes due to the commotion which ensued when MP Hamdan Al-Azmi accused the Parliament of pushing for the passage of the bill to give the Shiite MPs a chance to appeal against the GCC Security Agreement, if passed. Shiite MPs Khalil Abdullah and Adnan Abdul-Samad asked Al-Azmi to apologize for making such illogical remarks. The session resumed after 15 minutes and MP Faisal Al-Shayei apologized for what happened. He called on his colleagues to disregard the indecent words used during the argument. The Parliament approved the bill in its first reading although the government abstained from voting. The session was adjourned until Wednesday.

By: Abubakar A. Ibrahim Arab Times Staff

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