Criminal Law bill awaits Senate’s approval | Pakistan Today

Criminal Law bill awaits Senate’s approval

The Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill of 2010, later named the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill of 2011, has not lapsed, is very much intact and has been sent by the National Assembly Secretariat to the Law Ministry for vetting and advice, after which it would be sent to the Senate, Pakistan Today learnt on Saturday.
Successive media reports had suggested that all the hard work by women legislators to ensure the protection of women’s rights had been ruined as the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2011 had lapsed, as was the case with an earlier bill called the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill of 2009, which had lapsed in 2010 despite the passage of the bill from the Lower House of parliament, since the Senate did not pass it in the stipulated time of 90 days.
An official source told Pakistan Today that all the media hype about the alleged lapsing of the bill was falsely created by the “non-government organisation (NGO) mafia” and the stipulated time of 90 days had not even begun yet for the bill. “After vetting by the Law Ministry, the bill will be sent to the Senate, which is when the 90-day deadline would begin,” said the official, adding that since it was a private member’s bill, it needed to be sent to the Law Ministry first for vetting.
“The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill had lapsed as the subject was devolved to provincial governments. Parliament can no longer make legislation as law and order is now a provincial subject,” the source added. Under the law, a bill passed by the National Assembly has to be passed by the Senate within 90 days or it would lapse. Experts say that prior to the introduction of the 18th Amendment, such a bill would have to be placed in the mediation committee for necessary action.
However, now a joint session of parliament has to be summoned to pass the lapsed bill, said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Zahid Hamid. Anusha Rehman Khan, a PML-N parliamentarian and a joint mover of the acid crimes protection bill along with former PML-Quaid MNA Marvi Memon, said that it was necessary to follow up the process of the bill’s passage once Marvi was no longer a member of the assembly.
“However, it does not make a big difference as there is already adequate legislation against acid-throwers. But there is a need to improve the investigation and prosecution process as even if the bill is passed by the Senate, one has to prove its claim in the court of law against acid-throwers,” she said, adding that normally it was not the law and rather the lacunae in the prosecution that allowed the criminals to go free because of the faulty law of evidence.
“Under the bill, we have made two additions to the existing law – the words ‘corrosive substance’ to elaborate on the acid, and increasing the imprisonment and fine, since hurt and injury are already covered in the law. But one has to prove the crime in court so the prosecution process has to be strengthened,” she added. Centre for Media and Democracy (CMD) Pakistan Secretary General Sana Khan said the lapse of the acid crimes prevention bill and domestic violence prevention and protection bill were tantamount to taking the country back to the Dark Ages, where women were denied their rights.
The acid crime prevention bill called for an amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code, increasing punishment for offenders up to life imprisonment and making it mandatory for the offender to pay a fine of Rs 1 million to the victim.
The new insertion in Section 336-A states: “Whosoever with intention or knowingly causes or attempts to cause hurt by means of a corrosive substance or any substance which is deleterious to human body when it is swallowed, inhaled, comes in contact or received into human body or otherwise shall be said to cause hurt by corrosive substance.”

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