Lower House passes draft amendments; Thursday’s session to address NCS council

(Photo: Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Lower House resumed its deliberations on Wednesday over proposed constitutional amendments. The House approved an amendment to the Constitution's Article 92, related to holding joint sessions of the Parliament's two chambers to allow formation of a joint committee to discuss different articles of any draft laws, agree on a final version, and submit its recommendations to the two legislative councils.اضافة اعلان

Lawmakers also approved an amendment to the Constitution's Article 88, which addresses cases when a Senate and House seat becomes vacant, under which the government will not be notified of this vacancy as stated in the original text.

The amended Article 88 states: "If a Senate and House seat becomes vacant due to death, resignation, or other reasons, with the exception of lawmakers who were handed down a verdict invalidating their House membership. The Senate seat shall be filled by appointment from the King. If the vacant member is a deputy, the House shall notify Jordan Independent Elections Commission within 30 days of the seat vacancy." The vacant seat is filled, in accordance with the provisions of the Election Law, within sixty days from the date of vacancy notification and membership of the new lawmaker shall last until the end of the Lower House's term, per the newly amended version of the Constitution's Article 88.

A total of 106 deputies, out of 109 MPs, who attended the morning session, rejected the government’s amendment to Article 86 of Jordan's Constitution, which allows trial of the Senate and House members, during the duration of the Parliament’s session. The lawmakers voted in favor of returning to the Constitution's original text, Clause 1 of Article 86, which states: "No member of the Senate and the Lower House shall be arrested or tried during the duration of the Parliament's session, unless the concerned chamber issues a decision by an overwhelming majority that there is sufficient reason for his arrest or trial, or unless he/she is not apprehended red-handed in a criminal offence."

According to recommendations of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System, this amendment enhances the rule of law, does not disrupt litigation procedures, and grants House and Senate members the "necessary and sufficient" immunity to carry out their legislative and oversight role.

The Lower House also passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting members of both chambers of parliament, while in office, from concluding any contract, lease, sale, barter, or any other type of contract with the government, public official institutions or public institutions or companies owned or controlled by the government. The lawmakers turned down an amendment stipulating that the ownership of any cash or in-kind gift received by a representative or senator because of membership or on the occasion of it shall be transferred to the state's public treasury and kept the matter regulated by current laws.

With regard to cases of disqualifying a member of either chamber of Parliament, which are regulated by Paragraph 3 of Article 75, the deputies crossed out the phrase requiring that the King ratify the decision to disqualify the member, and considered that the membership is legally nonexistent under the cases specified in the same article.

Lawmakers also approved a constitutional amendment stipulating that a government recommending the dissolution of the House should not resign if the dissolution was within the last four months of the parliament's term.

On Thursday, the House will debate the remaining 4 article amendments of Jordan's Constitution, after deputies approved 26 out of 30 articles at 8 continuous sessions over the past four days. The remaining articles pertain to the formation of a National Security Council (NSC), in addition to foreign policies and provisions related to separating the Lower House membership from assuming a Cabinet post, as well as expunging the three-year period mentioned in Article 128, which is the time that was granted to abolish or amend laws and regulations, in line with 2011 amendment of Jordan's Constitution.

The House of Representatives approved a constitutional amendment stipulating that any amendment of the electoral legislations, political parties, the judiciary, the Independent Election Commission, the Audit Bureau, the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Bureau, the Nationality Law, and the Personal Status Law; that it must obtain the approval of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives.

The amendment stipulates that “decisions of each of the two chambers shall be issued with the approval of two-thirds of the votes of the members of the House of Representatives if the decision is related to the laws regulating elections, political parties, the judiciary, the independent commission, the Audit Bureau, the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Law, the Nationality Law, and the Personal Status Law.”

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