Panel passes Anti-Rape (investigation and trial) Bill, 2020 – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Aimed to curb increasing rape incidents in the country, a parliamentary body on Thursday passed Anti-Rape (investigation and trial) Bill, 2020 that changed the definition of rape and another bill that ensure awarding exemplary punishment to habitual rapists, including chemical castration.

The committee, which met with MNA Riaz Fatyana in the chair, passed Anti-Rape (investigation and trial) Bill, 2020 and the Criminal Law (amendment) Bill 2021 moved by the Minister for Law and Justice Mohammad Farogh Naseem after voting.

Federal law minister, while briefing the committee about the bills told the committee to approve both the bills with consensus in order curb increasing cases of rape in the country.

Under this law, special court, anti-rape crises cell, and special committee would be set up to hear rape cases and registered complaints.

The minister said in the present circumstances, when rape victims visit police stations to get their complaints registered, the police also rape them and do not register her complaint.

The purpose of amendment is to provide speedy justice to the victims by conduction of gender sensitive investigation and prosecution in special courts, providing strict punishment to the offenders by substituting the existing Section 375 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860, he said, adding that the bill also provides a new definition to rape which would extend to females, transgender, and male victims and also to introduce the offence of gang rape, and the concept of chemical castration, in case of repeating the offence.

He said if the PPP opposes this bill, it will create an impression that the PPP is anti-women.

Nafisa Shah MNA of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said she opposed the bill as there is duplication of law, the bill encouraging parallel court system and federalization.

She said there will be a clash between federal and provincial governments with the approval of these bills.

About chemical castration, she said it is inhuman under the law. The law for awarding death punishment and life imprisonment to rapist already exist, she added.

PPP MNA Syed Hussain Tariq said we need to strengthen the existing laws about rape.

Alia Kamran MNA Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) also opposed the bill and said this is a provincial matter how can you interfering in a provincial matter.

The provinces are subordinate to the High Courts. Why was the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court consulted on this, she questioned.

The members of opposition parties including PPP and JUI asked the committee chairman Riaz Fatyana to hold further discussion and amend the bill before its passage.

However, the chairman said the committee has already discussed in several meetings; therefore, now will decide it through voting.

Fatyana asked the members present to cast votes for or against the bill.

During the voting, eight of the members voted for the bill, while four opposed it. PML-N MNA Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk also voted in favour of both the bills.

Following the passage of the bill, Nafisa Shah and Aliya Kamran submitted their note of dissent.

The committee also passed ‘The National Accountability (amendment) Bill, 2021 Bill’ seeking extension in tenure of the prosecutor general accountability for three years. The ordinance amends Section 8(a) (iii) of the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999.

The NAO 1999 does not permit extension or re-appointment of the prosecutor general Accountability through voting.

During the discussion, the minister told the committee to pass this bill with consensus as it does not involve in political objectives. At this, Naveed Qamar said the NAB and politics are two sides of the same coin and both cannot be separated.

Fatyana suggested that Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Naveed Qamar hold dialogue over the NAB amendment bill.

Sadiq said there is a lack of trust between the government and opposition. In the past, when after holding detailed discussion in several meetings over the NAB amendment, the government blamed opposition that they are seeking NRO. If you want dialogue, a letter should be written to the leader of opposition.

At this, Naseem said being a minister, he will talk to the prime minister before holding dialogue over NAB amendment bill.

“I, Qamar and Sadiq should also consult their party heads before holding dialogue,” the minister said.

Later, Naseem requested committee chairman to hold voting on the bill. During the voting, eight of the members voted for the bill, while three opposed it.

The parliamentary body also passed the Registration (Amendment) Bill moved by PML-N MNA Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, unanimously, seeking to regulate the conveyancers and provide punishment for those performing without enrolment of license.

The meeting was also attended by MNA Atta Ullah, Lal Chand, Muhammad Farooq Azam Malik, Kishwer Zehra, Maleeka Ali Bokhari, Junaid Akbar, Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk, Syed Hussain Tariq, Nafisa Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, Aliya Kamran, and officials of Ministry of Law and Justice.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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