Senator questions constitutional status of Council of Islamic Ideology

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  • Babar says matter be referred to Law and Justice Committee

Senator Farhatullah Babar on Tuesday questioned the constitutional and legal status of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and its reports, and suggested the matter be referred to the law and justice committee for expert legal opinion.

During Senate’s discussion on CII’s annual report, Babar said the Council had, in its 2011-12 report, frankly admitted that after the submission of its final report in December 1996 it was no longer constitutionally required to continue submitting annual reports to parliament.

He argued that the Council unilaterally decided to keep submitting reports for what it says continuity of a tradition, and asked what obliged parliament to accept the desire of following a tradition that was sanctioned neither by the constitution, nor parliament had asked for it.

“The fact that it is no longer a constitutional requirement for the Council to submit annual reports raises questions about its status which needs to be looked into and clarified,” he went on to say.

According to the senator, the Council was merely an advisory body as it could not make a piece of law or strike it down. He said the task the Council had been assigned with under the 1973 Constitution had been completed and further submission of annual reports by it was no longer a requirement.

Babar questioned the need behind the existence of the CII especially in the presence of Federal Shariat Court which could strike down any law on the touch stone of whether it being Islamic or not. He further argued that according to the CII’s 2008 report, 90 per cent of the laws were not in conflict with Islam and that only 10 per cent might be taken up for a review by parliament which, he added, were also not in the Council’s domain.

The senator further said that the Council had made some very controversial pronouncements. Citing examples, he said the Council had rejected a draft bill for establishing homes for the elderly, saying that the idea was against the norms and traditions of society, rejected the Women Protection Bill, 2006 and declared that DNA test results as unacceptable as primary evidence in cases of rape.

Babar also recalled that some time back, the Council first approved the draft of a resolution recommending amendments to the blasphemy law so as to discourage false allegations, but later on the hardliners joined hands and struck down the proposed resolution.

In March 2014, he added, the CII had decreed that current laws forbidding child marriage were un-Islamic while back in 1978, it had recommended Pakistan carried ‘KalimaTayyaba’ and inscribed ‘Allah-O-Akbar’ on the national flag to inspire people for martyrdom and jihad.

Babar said that the said recommendations by the Council demonstrated how dangerously conservative and out of touch with the times it was, and demanded the law and justice committee examined the constitutional and legal status of the Council.

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