ISLAMABAD - The Senate on Monday allowed two private members bills to be moved including a bill to extend the jurisdiction of the Peshawar High Court and the Supreme Court to tribal areas for the enforcement of fundamental rights.
The bill moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar seeking to amend the constitution was referred to the committee of law for examination and report. According to the preamble of the bill, the tribal areas under article 1 (2) (c) the constitution are part of the territory of Pakistan. Its people are therefore entitled to equal protection of rights but by ousting the jurisdiction of the superior courts, article 247 (7) was a 'grave impediment' in the way of tribal people in securing their fundamental rights. Another bill to prevent torture, custodial deaths and custodial rape, also moved by Senator Farhatullah Babar and admitted by the Senate, prescribes stringent punishments for torture.
It defines 'torture' as an act intended to inflict physical or mental pain on a person in custody for securing confessional statement or as punishment for committing a suspected crime. Those found guilty of torture will face up to 10 years in jail and a fine up to one million rupees or both with the amount of fine going to the victim.
The custodial deaths and custodial rape are punishable with life imprisonment and a fine of three million rupees. If fine is not recovered, the guilty will have to undergo additional five years imprisonment. The fine amount is to be paid to the victims or heirs of the victim.
No female shall be detained for extracting information about the whereabouts of an accused and only female public servants can take into custody a female accused. Any statement obtained through torture shall not be admitted as evidence and offences under this act are non-compoundable and non-bailable. Under clause 9 any malafide complaint shall be punishable with imprisonment up to one year jail or with a fine up to Rs 100,000.
Complainants can also seek remedy under any other civil law. The statement of objects of the bill states that Pakistan signed the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment in 2008 and ratified it in 2010. He said that both the signing and ratification of the convention took place under the watch of then President Asif Ali Zardari himself, a victim of torture and inhuman punishment.
Talking on floor of Senate, Farhatullah Babar said ratification of the convention obligated Pakistan to adopt legislation. He said that although the PPC contained some provisions yet it never defined 'torture' as clearly as in article 1 of the UN. After ratification it had become necessary to bring domestic laws in conformity with the UN convention.
He said that the federal government was obligated to implement international conventions and treaties by virtue of items 3 and 32 of the federal legislative list.
The third bill moved by Senator Farhatullah to define privileges and immunities of the senators was deferred and the mover asked to amend it so as to make it applicable for members of Parliament and not only senators. It will be moved at the next private member's day after suitable amendment in it by the mover.
Speaking at a point of order, Senator Aitzaz Ahsan criticised the government of PML-N for creating political mess and advised Nawaz Sharif to allow Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan to take out Azadi March from Lahore to Islamabad.
"Imran is a national political leader who has been calling for audit of votes in four constituencies. The government should have given him honour by accepting his demand," Aitzaz said.
He was under the impression that Sharif-led government committed many mistakes and meted out indifferent treatment to Tahir ul Qadri's workers. "The government is repeatedly making mistakes. For instance, take example of Tahir-ul-Qadri. The way his workers were treated by Punjab police was condemnable," Aitzaz said. He questioned why the government is so scared of peaceful protests.