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CII has already conveyed to govt its reservations on Domestic Violence Bill

July 09, 2021
CII has already conveyed to govt its reservations on Domestic Violence Bill

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) had already expressed its reservations about several provisions of the Domestic Violence Bill in 2020 and had recommended halting the legislation process until the Islamic constitutional body reviewed the bill and gave its findings to the government.

The CII considered the bill in November 2020 after it was laid before the National Assembly. However, the opinion of the CII was conveyed to the Human Rights Ministry in the third week of June only after the bill generated controversy following its passage in the Senate.

A senior official of the Human Rights Ministry when approached said that upon receiving the Council’s letter, the ministry had halted the process and now the ministry would move ahead in consultation with the CII.

The HR ministry official said that the bill is now the property of the National Assembly. Following the CII’s reservations and in view of the prime minister’s decision to halt the legislation process until the Council gives its opinion about the bill, everything has stopped vis a vis the Domestic Violence Bill.

The bill is presently with the NA secretariat and is to be tabled again before the National Assembly to endorse the amendments made by the Senate and to make it an act. After its passage in the Senate, the bill attracted serious controversy among many, including parliamentarians, political leaders, including JI amir Sirajul Haq, Senator Mushtaq Ahmad and JUIF Senator Atta-ur-Rehman, religious scholars and opinion-makers, who raised objections and dubbed it highly objectionable. It was demanded of the government, through the media and social media, to refer the bill to the CII because several of its provisions were considered against the teachings of Islam.

Following public pressure, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s advisor on parliamentary affairs Babar Awan formally approached Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser and asked the latter to refer the bill to the CII.

Babar Awan wrote a letter on the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was also told about some ‘un-Islamic provisions’ included in the bill. Sources said that even on Tuesday, the prime minister in the cabinet meeting told his ministers that it is the right decision to refer the matter to the CII.

Although the CII has yet to receive any reference on the issue from the Speaker of the National Assembly, senior figures in the Council told The News that the Human Rights Ministry has already been informed by the Council not to go ahead with legislation on the bill because of the constitutional body’s reservations about several provisions.

According to the information gathered by The News, the CII considered the bill soon after it was moved before the National Assembly in Oct 2020. The bill was discussed in its 222nd meeting, which expressed its reservations regarding some sections of the Domestic Violence bill.

The CII’s reservations were conveyed to the Human Rights Ministry on June 17, 2021. The HR Ministry was told that the council needed time for a detailed review and consultation on the matter before giving its final opinion. It was also recommended to the government by the council that the bill should not be legislated till such time that the CII gave its final opinion on the matter.

The concerned minister was not available for comments despite repeated calls and a whatsapp message. However, when Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry was contacted, he said that parliament is supreme and can legislate any law. He said that the CII could only give its recommendations.

Chaudhry added that there is nothing un-Islamic in the bill, which was approved by the cabinet and passed by the NA and Senate. He said the bill is meant to protect women, children and others from domestic violence as in the spirit of Islam.

The information minister said that all those who approved the bill in the cabinet and had voted for it in the parliament are Muslims, adding: "Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh provinces have already approved the similar bills at the provincial level, how can it be un-Islamic?"