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October 27, 2020

Sexual abuse of human body: Bill moved in Senate seeking death or life for abuser


October 27, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A bill proposing death sentence or at least life imprisonment to anyone abusing a dead body was moved in the Senate on Monday and referred to the House standing committee concerned for deliberation and report.

The bill further to amend the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 [The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2020 (Insertion of new Section 297A)] was moved by PML-N Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, which was not opposed by the government on a private members day.

He explained that harshest punishment was imperative for curbing the diabolical act of taking out dead bodies from graves and subjecting them to sexual crime. Likewise, another bill, introduced by JI Senator Sirajul Haq, was tabled in the House and referred to the committee concerned of the House.

The proposed bill seeks to amend Article 93 of the Constitution to make it mandatory on advisors to also take oath like ministers. The JI senator said the proposed amendment would make it binding on an advisor to be held answerable before the Parliament.

He moved another bill to amend the Zainab Alert Law to also make the police officer or any other involved in probing a child rape or murder case seen to be showing negligence. It was also referred to the House committee concerned.

State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said a draft bill was brought in the Cabinet, which was sent to the Ministry of Law, which made the state petitioner in a rape or molestation case.

The Senate was moved to enable the Senate Chairman and NA Speaker to chip in and decide on appointment of chief election commissioner and members of the Election Commission of Pakistan if the prime minister and leader of opposition and the parliamentary committee remain inconclusive on their nominations. The bill was introduced by Sirajul Haq.

JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmad moved a bill for amending the Anti-Terrorism Act to ensure that in case of legislation relating to FATF, money laundering and terror financing, foreign pressure must not be accepted, natural justice be ensured and national interests protected.

The bill was opposed by the government but Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani referred it to the House committee concerned after taking sense of the House.

The House passed an amendment to the Pakistan Press Council Ordinance, opening doors on others, lawyers and journalists to be candidates for the post of PPC chairman. Previously, only a retired judge of the Supreme Court could head it.

The bill was brought by Senator Javed Abbasi and approved by the House panel concerned. Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz charged the opposition had made a blatant constitutional violation during the PDM pubic meeting in Quetta, of which PPP was also a component. However, he was met with sloganeering by some opposition senators as he tried to respond to the PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate Sherry Rehman and Senator Mian Raza Rabbani’s strong objection to further empowering the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority through an amendment bill, moved by PTI Senator Faisal Javed, who also heads the House standing committee concerned.

Senators Sherry and Rabbani questioned the logic behind empowering the Pemra more, which amounted to allowing it to get into private entities in the name of job security of media persons.

Rabbani contended that he did not doubt the intention of Senator Faisal but it was not the proper way to ensure job protection, as already the government had left no stone unturned to gag the media. He said the amendment would be used as an added lever against the media. He said the step was against the media houses to further strip the media of freedom.

Senator Faisal pointed out that the bill was cleared by the committee and the PPP had representation in it. He explained that the bill was not at all an attack on the media freedom rather it was a bid to ensure job protection of media persons and that they get their salaries on time.

He insisted the government believed in complete freedom of the media. The bill would not be put to vote. PML-N Senator Pervaiz Rashid rose to say the amendment meant giving another tool to Pemra against the media, already facing unprecedented censorship.

To this, the information minister put aside these concerns but the opposition senators resorted to slogan chanting and then exited the House. “They must have courage and a heart to listen when they raise points but lack courage,” the minister regretted.

JUI-Fazl Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman drew attention of the chair towards lack of quorum in the House. The chair ordered ringing of bells for two minutes. On finding that only 14 senators were present in the House, bells were rung to complete the quorum but no member turned up after which the proceedings were adjourned till Thursday morning.