Removal of flaws in honour killing bill
ISLAMABAD – Opposition senators on December 3, pointed out several ‘loopholes’ in the honour killing bill and demanded that the legislation should be referred to the standing committee for improvement.
Taking part in the debate on the bill, which has been introduced to amend the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 through ‘the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2004, members belonging to the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal and the People’s Party Parliamentarians said they were not opposed to the proposed law but their concerns and reservations on it should be removed.
Initiating the debate, PPP Senator Farooq Naek said the main lacuna in the bill, known as the honour killing bill, was that it had not made punishment for honour crimes mandatory which, he added, had defeated the very purpose of introducing the legislation.
He said by providing that the only penalties for honour killing would be Qisas, or death, or life-imprisonment (Taazir), the bill had lessened the chances of conviction.
“While the intention of providing a higher penalty may be good, this can prove to be counter-productive. Where courts are already reluctant to give harsh punishment in cases of honour crimes, laying down a minimum of 25-year imprisonment or death sentence may discourage them from convicting the accused in these cases, just as the mandatory death penalty in gang-rape cases makes conviction near impossible,” he argued.
Mr Naek pointed out that there was no provision in the bill to ensure that others, who were usually involved in such incidents and were therefore primarily responsible for encouraging such practices like jirgas, panchayat or family members, too became equally liable to penalty.
He suggested that there should be a minimum mandatory punishment for all honour crimes. “In the case of murder, this (punishment) should be minimum of 14 years and in the case of other crimes, it should be at least half of the maximum punishment.”
He said that Section 299, which was the definition clause, was vague and ambiguous as no definition of honour killing or karo-kari had been given in it. He said the mover had taken it for granted that everybody knew about the offences under honour killing or karo-kari. “There is a need for a proper definition of these offences,” he said.
The PPP senator suggested that the state, and not individuals, should be declared ‘Wali’. Moreover, he said, the poor would surrender their right to justice and accept payment (diyat) in pre-planned murders. He claimed that the bill would encourage the culture of crime against women and devalue the victims.
He asked the government not to show any haste in getting the bill passed in the Senate. He said the bill should be referred to the standing committee with instructions that it should clear it within 15 days after a through discussion.
Earlier, the house rejected three amendments to the bill proposed by MMA senators. Prof Ghafoor Ahmed, Prof Ibrahim and others had proposed that the bill be referred to the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII).
Prof Ibrahim said his party would not oppose the bill provided they got an assurance from the CII that the bill was not repugnant to Islamic teachings. “There are few things in the bill which we believe are against Islamic teachings,” the MMA senator said.