Govt suggests changes in Hudood, blasphemy laws -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Govt suggests changes in Hudood, blasphemy laws

ISLAMABAD – After 25 years, the government on August 11 unfolded changes suggested in the Hudood laws under which a woman accused of Zina could not be arrested by police anymore without the permission of court and only an officer of the status of Superintendent of Police (SP) will investigate charges against her.

Similarly, initial investigations against the accused of blasphemy have been suggested to be conducted by a SP level officer before further proceedings to stop the possible abuse of the law.

The relief to the victims of Hudood laws has been proposed through amendments to the Pakistan Panel Code 1860 and the code of Criminal Procedure, 1898. Two new clauses have been added to the Code. According to the first amendment to Chapter XIV, Act V of 1898, in the code of criminal procedure 1989, after section 156, the following has been inserted ‘156-A- Investigation of offence under section 295-C Pakistan Panel Code: Notwithstanding anything contained in this code, no police officer below the rank of a superintendent of police shall investigate the offence against any person alleged to have been committed by him under section 295-C of the Pakistan Panel code 1860’.

The suggested changes are part of a joint bill referred by the National Assembly to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice that started its deliberations on the proposed amendments in its meeting in Parliament House on August 11.

In the past there have been a lot of talks to affect the needed changes in these laws to stop the abuse of these laws, but nothing practical could be done due to the pressure of the religious groups and lack of political will on the part of the governments of the day day. There is no mention in the bill that whether police could only arrest the male on charges of Zina while the woman will be allowed to go unless police get permission from court.

The committee will continue its deliberations on Thursday on Hudood, Karo Kari and Blasphemy laws to give the changes final touches before referring them to parliament for final approval.

Earlier, sources said when the meeting started, the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs Division briefed participants of the standing committee members about the changes being proposed in the Hudood, and the blasphemy laws. It was pointed out that the government had decided to bring about these changes because the laws were being abused by police and other sections of society.

While, another clause has been inserted in the bill to stop the abuse of Hudood laws and provide an even ground to the woman accused of Zina. 156-B: investigation against a woman accused of the offence of Zina: notwithstanding anything contained in this code, where a women is accused of offence of Zina under the offence of Zina, (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979, no police officer below the rank of a superintendent of police shall investigate such offence nor shall the woman be arrested without the permission of the court’. Sources said majority of the participants of the meeting on law and justice supported these changes and termed them positive and good for society.

Source: The News