Senate unanimously passes 3 rights bills

| Bills, if adopted by NA, will discourage crime against women

ISLAMABAD - The Senate, in his farewell session on Monday, unanimously passed four private members bills, including anti-honour killing laws amendment bill, anti-rape laws amendment bill and the bill to provide for prevention of torture, custodial death and custodial rape, moved by PPP lawmakers.
The three bills, if passed by the National Assembly, would prove a strong legislation to stop crime against women in the country. On a private members’ day, the house also unanimously passed Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2013, to amend the Privatisation Commission Ordinance, 2000. The standing committees concerned of the Senate have already endorsed all these four bills. The bills will now go to the National Assembly for its approval and it is likely that these would face opposition from the lower house as the ruling PML-N is the majority party in that house.
The Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Rape (Prevention and Punishment) Bill, moved by PPP’s Farhatullah Babar, makes inadmissible evidence or statements obtained through torture and prescribes life imprisonment and fine of Rs 3 million for custodial death or custodial rape and a minimum of 5 years in jail and fine up to Rs one million for torture.
No reason, including a state of war, emergency, political instability or an order of a superior authority, shall constitute a defence against torture, according to the bill. No offence under it shall be compoundable and all offences will be cognizable and non-bailable.
No female shall be detained to extract information regarding the whereabouts of a person accused of any offence. A female can be taken into custody only by a female public servant and not by any male.
A public servant accused of torture shall, prior to initiation of the investigation, be suspended or transferred to a different location. A district and sessions court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to try such offences.
It defines torture as inflicting physical or mental pain on another person into custody for obtaining any information or a confession or harassing and molesting a woman for this purpose. Complaints of torture may be filed either with the FIA or before a sessions judge against any person, including a public servant.
Investigation into complaints of torture shall be completed within 14 days. Trials shall be completed within three weeks. Appeals can be filed before the respective high court within 10 days and decided in 30 days. The complaints filed with mala fide intent will be punishable with imprisonment up to one year or with fine up to Rs 100,000.
The Anti-Rape Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill, 2014, moved by PPP’s outgoing senator, Sughra Imam, aims at addressing lacunae in the existing laws to improve conviction rates and bring the culprits within the ambit of the law. Under the proposed law, the identity of the rape victims would be protected and the courts shall decide any such case within six months, failing which an application may be made to the high court for appropriate directions for expeditious disposal of the case to meet the ends of justice. The trial of the case shall be held in camera and no journalist will be able to print or publish the proceedings of the case except with the prior permission of the court.
The Anti-Honour Killing Laws (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act, 2012, also moved by Senator Sughra Imam, addresses the loopholes and lacunae in the existing laws to prevent such crimes from being repeatedly committed. The Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898, are to be amended through this bill.
The Privatisation Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2013, moved by Senator Sughra Imam, aims at bringing transparency in the privatisation process. The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says it is essential that all officials involved in, or overseeing, the privatisation process must be free from any personal interest, prejudice or conflict of interests otherwise the entire privatisation process will become an exercise in controversy.

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