Sunday December 10, 2023

Sindh Assembly amends law to establish special courts for child protection

April 24, 2021

The Sindh Assembly on Friday passed into law the Sindh Child Protection Authority (Amendment) Law 2021, paving the way for setting up special courts for child protection in each district of the province.

The Section 20-D of the newly passed amendment bill titled ‘Establishment of Special Courts’ reads: “For the purpose of speedy justice, government shall, in consultation with the High Court of Sindh, by notification, specify for each district, an existing court of Civil Judge/Assistant Sessions Judge to be a Special Court for Child Protection to try the offences under this (Sindh Child Protection Authority) Act.”

The bill further states: “On establishment of special courts, the cases failing within the purview of this act pending in any court shall be transferred to the Special Court for trial. “The Special Court on taking cognizance of a case shall proceed with the trial from day to day and shall decide the case within 120 days.”

The amendment bill also makes it binding upon the police or any other law enforcement agency in the province to lodge the first information report (FIR) against any incident of a child going missing or abducted within four hours of the occurrence of the criminal instance.

The failure of the police or any other LEA concerned to lodge the FIR would attract due penal action. The amendment law has also empowered the chairperson of the Sindh Child Protection Authority to take suo motu cognizance of the incidents of the child abuse in Sindh.

The newly passed law defines the act of abuse against children as being physical, psychological or sexual violence, exploitation, compromising economic exploitation and sexual exploitation including child marriage, child trafficking, domestic or commercial child labour, corporal punishment, injury, and maltreatment.

After the passage of the bill, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Shamim Mumtaz, who also acts as the chairperson of the Child Protection Authority, expressed gratitude to the lawmakers for their support to pass the new amendment law.

Question hour

Meanwhile, the Sindh Assembly was informed that only those religious seminaries in the province were provided with Zakat assistance from the provincial government, which possessed the no-objection certificate from the deputy commissioner concerned and the home department.

The information to this effect was passed on by Parliamentary Secretary for the Auqaf, Zakat, and Ushr department Heer Ismail Soho as she responded to queries of the concerned lawmakers during the question hour of the session.

The parliamentary secretary informed the legislature that students of registered religious seminaries in the province were given assistance from the Zakat funds. She said deserving students of the universities were also given financial assistance from the Zakat funds. She said that such financial assistance was given on a need-cum-merit basis.

In all, 26 deserving institutions in the province were given financial assistance from Zakat funds, she said, adding that different hospitals were also receiving Zakat funds. Heer said that provincial Zakat authorities could not provide funds to the deserving people and institutions in the sufficient manner owing to less finances available from the federal government for the purpose.

Meanwhile, the parliamentary secretary for the Sindh local government department, while responding to a call-attention notice, said work had been in progress on the bulk water supply projects as there existed a gap between the demand and supply of water in Karachi.

He added that six hydrants had been legally operating in the city. Residents of Korangi had to face water shortage in the current month due to damage of the water pipeline, he explained.

Responding to another call-attention notice, Sindh Minister for Women Development Shehla Raza informed the House that an FIR had been lodged against the incident of abuse of a woman patient at a private hospital in Larkana.

She said DNA of the doctor concerned had not matched with the samples collected from the crime incident for forensic investigation. She added that three staffers of the hospitals had been detained and further investigations were under way.