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Senate sends three bills to joint sitting of Parliament

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Bills passed by Senate but not by National Assembly in 90 days of laying

Islamabad October 5, 2015: The senate today adopted three motions moved by ppp senator Farhatullah Babar and sent three bills it already passed in March this year but could not be passed by the National Assembly within 90 days of its laying, to the joint sitting of Parliament.

The three bills referred to the joint sitting include The Privatization Commission (Amendment) Bill,, the anti Honor killing (amendment) Bill and the Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, all initially moved by PPP former Senator Sughra Imam and passed by the senate in March this year but not passed in the national assembly.

The first bill that was referred to the joint session was Privatization Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2013 that seeks to bring transparency in the privatization process. The amendment requires that all officials involved in, or overseeing, the privatization process must be free from any personal interest, prejudice or conflict of interests otherwise the entire privatization process will become an exercise in controversy.

The other bill referred to joint sitting pertaining to murders in the name of honour and sought to make amendments to overcome the loopholes in the existing laws. At present murder in the name of honor is committed by one member of the family who is then promptly pardoned by another member of the same family. The amendment seeks to remove this lacuna in the law.

The third bill referred today to the joint sitting aims at strengthening the law against rape. The Anti-Rape Laws Amendment Bill seeks amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Qanoon-i-Shahadat to make rape prosecution free of loopholes.

A critical amendment pertains to mandatory DNA test within twenty-four of hours of receipt of rape report and to make the results of the test admissible as evidence. Other amendments pertain to resolution of rape cases within six months, protection of the identity of rape victims and penalties for disclosures of personal information of rape victims.

Talking to media Senator Farhatullah Babar said that mandatory DNA testing would not only overcome a serious loophole in terms of producing witnesses in rape case but the amendment will also provide an effective response to the proclamation of the Council of Islamic Ideology last year rejecting the importance of DNA tests in rape cases. The CII is merely an advisory body whose recommendations are not binding on the parliament, he said.

The amendment also seeks to protect the identity of the rape victims and holding of trials in camera and restrictions to print or publish the proceedings of the case except with the prior permission of the court.

The bill also requires a three year sentence and/or fine for a public servant who fails to “properly and diligently” carry out an investigation. Police officers and public servants who take advantage of their position to rape women in their custody will be given a mandatory life imprisonment.

Farhatullah Babar said that according to the ruling of the Chairman senate given in August last if the motion is carried it will be mandatory for the president to summon the joint sitting without reference to the parliamentary affairs ministry or a summary form the prime minister. The chairman ruling had said, “ the procedure to be adopted once a request/ advise under clause (3) of Article 70 of the Constitution, 1973, read with relevant Rules of Procedure of either House, has been tendered by the Chairman or the Speaker of the Senate or the National Assembly, respectively, the President shall summon a joint sitting with the sole purpose of taking into consideration the Bill or Bills so referred. While coming to a conclusion on the date of such summoning, he may or may not, seek the advise of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, to the extent of the date of such summoning, only”.

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