NA approves bill on prisoner assistance
By Raja Asghar
ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly passed a bill without debate on Friday to make it easier for convicts to pay blood money and compensation for some injuries under Islamic laws through a special fund that will also give them soft loans.
The Pakistan Penal Code (Amendment) Bill, based on a pre-Nov 3, 2007 emergency presidential ordinance, was the second government bill passed by the house on the second day of its spring session and must be adopted by the Senate as well to become a permanent law in line with a Supreme Court order of 2006.
The original ordinance was one of 37 decrees of former president Pervez Musharraf that lost exemption from parliamentary approval by a Supreme Court ruling of July 31, 2009, that nullified his controversial Nov 3, 2008, emergency proclamation and was re-issued by President Asif Ali Zardari in November.
Piloted by Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Babar Awan, the five-clause bill amends sections 331, 337X and 337Y of the Pakistan Penal Code to enhance to five years, from three years, the period for payment of diyat, or blood money, and arsh and daman compensation for injuries.
It also amends section 338G to empower the federal government to make rules for the creation of a non-lapsable and tax-exempted fund to pay diyat, arsh and daman owed by convicts confined in jail because of their inability to make these payments and also give soft loans to satisfy claims of heirs. It also provides for release of prisoners on parole and providing them jobs in non-government establishments to help them pay back loans.