Parliamentary Committee of Joint Sittings
Consideration of Anti Rape and Anti Honor Killing Laws deferred
Islamabad March 29, 2016: The Parliamentary Committee of the Joint Sitting on Bills that met today in the Parliament House under the Chairmanship of federal Minister Zahid Hamid deferred till April 6 further consideration of two important pro-women pieces of legislation after objections raised by JUI’s Senator Maulana Ataur Rehman who asked the Bills be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and also because of some amendments moved by the government which the mover thought were unnecessary.
One Bill pertains to preventing killings of women in the name of honour and the other seeks to make DNA test a compulsory part of procedure in investigating rape cases.
Defending the Bills Senator Farhatullah babar said that murders in the name of honour have largely gone unpunished because in most cases both the accused and victim have the same guardian (wali) who promptly pardons the accused.
The Bill seeks to remove a major lacuna in the law by making honour killing non-compoundable, he said
Opposing the JUI suggestion to refer the Bill to CII Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the anti- Honor Killing law was passed unanimously not only by the Senate Committee on Interior headed by JUI’s Senator Talha Mahmood but also passed unanimously in March 2014 by the entire senate that also included the PML-N, JUI, ANP, MQM, PML-Q and senators from all parties.
Ideology and religious tenets he said was not the issue because the offence of murder had also been taken out from the category of compoundable offences in the anti terror as well as some other laws.
So the assertion that making non compoundable the murder in the name of honour was in conflict with ideology or religious tenets was not correct, he said.
Consideration of the other Bill known as anti Rape Bill that seeks to make DNA test compulsory as part of the procedure and investigation in all rape cases was also deferred till the next meeting of the Joint parliamentary Committee.
Apart from making DNA test compulsory the anti rape Bill also seeks to protect the identity of the victim of rape and enhances punishment for rape in a police station or in custody of law enforcing agencies.
Farhatullah Babar said that this Bill too had been passed unanimously both at the committee level and the full senate in March 2014 by all political parties including the JUI. Referring it to the CCI will only delay the matter.
The preamble to the anti rape law states that rape is a heinous crime; an act of violence that ruins the lives of victims but the conviction rate for this heinous offence is abysmally low. In reply to a question in the senate out of over 100 reported rape cases registered in the Islamabad capital territory there has not been a single conviction. The Bill he said was aimed to removing fundamental lacunae in the existing law.
Both the Bills initially moved by PPP Senator Sughra Imam in the Senate as private member Bills could not be passed by the National Assembly in the mandatory 90 day period and were referred to the Joint sitting on a motion moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar.
The two bills taken up by the Committee today are incluided in the seven Bills recently referred by the Joint sitting of the Parliament to the Committee of the Joint Sittings.