Opposition rejects honour killing bill
ISLAMABAD – The opposition leaders belonging to the Alliance for the Restoration of Democracy (ARD) and the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) have rejected the bill on honour killing, tabled by the government on Monday, and condemned the government for “bulldozing” every piece of legislation in parliament.
Speaking at a news conference after a boycott of the assembly proceedings here on Monday, the opposition leaders said instead of providing protection to women and people of Pakistan, the government wanted to impose its own will on the nation.
People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP) MNA Sherry Rehman said the bill, tabled by her on honour killing, had been still pending in the standing committee. Instead of discussion on the bill, she said, the government had introduced its own bill in violation of the Constitution.
The PPP MNA said Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Dr. Sher Afgan had himself stated on the floor of the house that the PPP’s honour killing bill would be discussed. She regretted that the party members were also not invited to attend the meeting of the standing committee and they were not allowed to submit their dissenting note with the committee’s report on the bill.
She said through this amendment the government had only increased the punishments while the system of compromising and compoundability was still there. The bill, she said, did not address the problem of compromise (compoundability), which allowed the murderer to continue to be forgiven by the heirs of the victim. “The PPP bill had proposed that this major flaw be removed and that the Vali should be the state,” she said. In this way, she said, the government had privatized the crime.
She also criticized the government for dragging the issues of ‘Zina’ (rape) and blasphemy in the honour killing bill. Ms. Rehman said the human rights and women rights organizations wanted to end discretionary powers of judges in such cases.
She was of the view that the government had introduced this bill only for the consumption of world powers. According to reports, she said, still five women were becoming the victim of honour killing daily in the country.
Ms. Rehman said on one hand the government alleged that the opposition did not take part in the assembly proceedings and on the other hand, it did not allow opposition members to present their bills. She also termed the present bill against the basic spirit of Islamic laws.
Liaquat Baloch of the MMA also rejected the bill and said any laws passed by the parliament in the absence of opposition members would be considered a faulty law.
Another PPP MNA Mehreen Anwar Raja said the government was even bent upon to bulldoze the committees’ system. She alleged that the government was bringing the bills before the committee in the back dates.
Later, PPP MNA Sherry Rehman, in a separate press statement, said it was a matter of shame that the rulers condoned the horrible act of honour killings.
She said the diyat clause pressured poor people, who became Valis or heirs to surrender their claims to justice and accept some payment for what was often a pre-planned murder. “This encourages a culture of crimes against women and devalues the life of the victim,” she added. The government bill makes no effort to rid society of this menace by removing this clause as the PPP bill had suggested, she said.
“There is little point in paying lip-service to this bill by keeping the discretionary powers of the lower courts, because that is where the bulk of the judgments are decided,” she said. Since the Qisas and Diyat laws were implemented, she claimed, 85 per cent of honour criminals were either acquitted or awarded very light sentences.
She said the government claimed that it had dealt with the issue of compromise or forgiveness clause for criminals by the valis of the victims by extending the penalty or punishment that can be awarded. “This is complete eyewash. What is the point of awarding maximum sentences if these cases are never going to get to the stage of awarding punishments,” she asked.
A Reporter adds: In a joint statement issued here on Monday MMA leaders Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Liaquat Baloch, Hafiz Hussain Ahmed, Ayesha Munawar and Samiah Rahil Qazi rejected the proposed amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), 1898, claiming that the bill has interfered with the Shariah laws.
They condemned the proposed amendment and said “the punishment for killing in the name of honour already falls in the category of intentional murder, is already clearly defined in the law.”
However, they said, the proposed amendment in the bill confronted the Islamic law of ‘Qisas and Diyat’ under which the right of pardon was being taken away from the ‘Vali’ or heirs of the person killed granted under ‘Holy Quran’.
They said under clauses 3, 8 and 10 of the proposed bill an attempt was being made to take away the right granted under verse 178′ of ‘Surrah al-Baqra’.
They said in clause 3, the punishment for killing in the name of honour had been fixed as death only while the right of pardon or reaching a compromise was being taken away from the ‘Vali’. They said the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were arguing that in most of such cases brothers and fathers were involved in these murders and as such they should not have the right to pardon or compromise.
They said as the judges and the courts had the right to award death sentence under the prevailing laws, the proposed amendment was only aimed at contradicting the ‘Quranic’ guidance. They further said the clause 8 says that no pardon or compromise can be reached with the permission of the court while same thing is mentioned under section 38E of the PPC.
“According to ‘Shariah’ first the ‘Vali’ is required to be approached for ‘Qisas and Diyat’ and then the court will have the right while the proposed amendment in the law is aimed at destroying the family structure and denying the Shariah law,” they said.
The third objectionable clause is the amendment No: 10 the right to grant pardon or reach a compromise is being taken away from father and brother of the victim by making three columns in section 345 of the CrPC while under Shariah ‘father cannot be killed in place of his child/children’.
They, however, appreciated two amendments in the bill under which a woman could not be offered for peace and the term of imprisonment had been increased from 14 years to 25 years under such cases.