The Upper House of the Parliament on Monday unanimously passed two landmark bills, the Prevention of Anti-Women Practices Bill that prohibits forced marriages, marriage with Holy Quran and depriving women from inheriting property as well as the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill.
Both the Bills, with the same title of Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2011 by amending the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 have already been passed by the National Assembly and would be further sent to the President for final approval.
All the Parliamentary parties sitting both from the Treasury as well as Opposition benches unanimously supported the two Bills terming it a landmark legislation in the country’s history with reference to women rights.
Senator Raja Zafarul Haq of PML-N and Leader of the House Nayyer Hussain Bokhari stressed the need that both the laws should be implemented in letter and spirit. Raja Zafar also proposed for the formation of a national awareness committee to bring awareness among the masses for this purpose.
Jamal Khan Leghari urged the landlords of Sindh and elders of Baloch tribes to make sure that no women rights be violated in their respective tribes.
Senator Nilofar Bakhtiar, the mover of the two Bills in the Senate paid homage to the lawmakers for passing them unanimously as well as those civil rights activists who led their whole life to support the cause of women rights.
All the lawmakers thumped desks to give applause to such activists including those sitting in the visitors gallery.
Some victims of acid throwing incidents were also present in the gallery when the House passed these two important legislations.
Under the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention (Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2011) Bill, whoever causes harm by corrosive substance shall be punished with imprisonment for life or imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than 14 years or a minimum fine of Rs one million.
Legislators of PML-Q led by Dr Donya Aziz from the National Assembly were the original movers of this Bill.
The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill says that the crime of throwing acid on women is becoming more common and recurring day by day. The main cause of it is the absence of proper legislation on this subject. Therefore, criminal minded people are constantly using it as a dangerous and devastating arm against the women.
The amended Clause 310-A of Prevention of Anti-Women Practices (Criminal Law Amendment Act, 2011) Bill says that whoever gives a female in marriage or otherwise compels her to enter into marriage as badal-e-sulah, wani, or swara or any other custom or practice under any name, in consideration of settling a civil dispute or a criminal liability shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term, which may extend to seven years or for a term which shall not be less than three years and shall also be liable to fine of Rs 5 lakh.
Similarly, whoever by deceitful or illegal means deprives any woman from inheriting any movable or immovable property at the time of opening of succession shall be punished with imprisonment for either description for a term which may extend to 10 years but not less than five years or with a fine of Rs one million or both.
Meanwhile, two lawmakers of Awami National Party (ANP) strongly objected to a NGO’s move for erecting banners and holding a protest rally in favour of Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Haji Adeel Ahmed termed it a conspiracy against the incumbent democratic set up as well as the Armed Forces. He on a point of order said that an NGO had erected banners all around the capital written with the slogans ‘It was the need of the nation to bring Kayani into power’ and has also held a protest rally in this regard.
Ilyas Bilour, another lawmaker of the same party, demanded that NGO should be banned for its involvement in such activities.
Leader of the House Nayyer Hussain Bokhari informed the House that a report was being sought from the ICT Administration in this regard.
He also informed that a summary was being moved to summon the joint session of the Parliament on the query of Senator Ahmed Ali of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).
The lawmakers across the board except MQM and Pakistan Muslim League-Q opposed the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2010 for a centralised curriculum through out the country that was de-centralised as a result of the 18th Amendment.
The lawmakers both from the Opposition and the Treasury benches terming the Bill against the soul of the historical 18th Amendment said that the proposed legislation would cause a sense of deprivation among the Federating units of the country.
They said that the centralisation of curriculum through the Bill would increase a trust deficit between the Federating units and the center and stressed that the Federal government should trust the provinces in this regard.
The Bill moved by S.M. Zafar, Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and Waseem Sajjad of PML-Q was deferred for another private members day. Professor Khurshid Ahmed of Jamaat-e-Islami was of the view that 18th Amendment was not the last word ,however, the House should have a consensus on this issue.
Mian Raza Rabbani said that they would have to change the mindset that Islamabad was loyal with the country and Federating units were not.
He said that it was the vested interests of bureaucracy and politicians that they did not want to implement the 18th Amendment and devolution process was being rolled back.
The mover of the Bill, S.M.Zafar said, ‘If the opponents of the Bill say a conspiracy is being hatched against the Federating units, I can say that conspiracy is being hatched against unity of the country’.
Nayyer Hussain Bokhari moved a privilege motion against Vice Chancellor of Quaid-e-Azam University, Dr Masoom Yasinzai for passing derogatory remarks against the PPP-led government, the sitting Ministers and himself also while addressing an employees gathering.
Senator Tahir Hussain Mushhadi of MQM moved the Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2011 regarding desecration of graves and disgracing of human bodies that was referred to the concerned standing committee.