ISLAMABAD - The Sub-Committee of the Standing Committee on Interior and Narcotics Control on Friday passed the Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2014.

The Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2014 strengthens the court’s ability to convict the criminal, supports the victim, offers a comprehensive investigation mechanism not exceeding more than 60 days and renders legal action against the Investigating Officer in case of negligence and punishment of defective investigation.

According to the Bill, if an acid or burn attack results in the death of any person, the perpetrator shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of existing law.

The Bill was moved by Minister of State and Chairperson BISP MNA Marvi Memon, Capt (Retd) Muhammad Safdar, Makhdoom Khusroo Bakhtyar, Parveen Masood Bhatti, Iffat Liaquat, Isphanyar M. Bhandara, Seema Mohiuddin Jameeli, Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Shahab-ud- Din Khan, Tahira Bukhari, Farhana Qamar, Leila Khan, Kiran Haider and Salman Hanif to criminalise acid and burn related violence by providing fair and speedy trial.

MNA Syed Javaid Ali Shah is the convener of the Committee while other members are Naeema Kishwer Khan, Muhammad Yousaf Talpur and Salman Khan Baloch.

Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 was moved by MNA Marvi Memon as Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill 2010 and it was unanimously passed by the previous Parliament. This act, for the first time, made acid and burn violence a crime against the State, making it a non-compoundable and non-bailable offence.

It imposed a fine of Rs 1 million on the perpetrator and granted minimum 14 years sentence to maximum lifetime imprisonment punishment.

As a result of Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011, conviction rate tripled in 2012 reaching 18 per cent but victims of acid violence still face tremendous difficulties in getting a complaint registered under the right Section of PPC. The prosecution rate was 35 per cent which meant that justice was not provided in 65 per cent of the cases because of weak prosecution.

In line of this ground-breaking legislation which was the basis of the Oscar winning documentary, The Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2014 was presented by MNA Marvi Memon to strengthen Criminal Law Amendment Act 2011 which was the first step of a more comprehensive legislative apparel and it alone is not sufficient to prevent acid and burn crimes.

As first part of three steps legislation apparel towards acid crime eradication, 2011 Act brought amendment in PPC in 2011. Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2014, as a second step provides the comprehensive legal mechanism and a monitoring board for implementation and it will be followed by the third step resulting into complementary law for control of acid sale.

The bill offers free medical treatment and rehabilitation facility for the acid burn victims by the government.

The Bill legally binds the medical practitioners to inform law-enforcing agencies and take photographic evidence of the injuries as a result of acid attack. It also provides interim monetary relief to victims by the State for expenses/losses incurred in addition to penalising the aides/abettors as well. The Bill outlines to conduct trial of accused in the shortest possible period. It also provides protection for witnesses, legal aid and financial support for the victims and their dependants.

The Acid and Burn Crime Bill 2014 recommends establishment of Acid and Burn Crime Monitoring Board with 33 per cent women representation to ensure and monitor effective implementation of this act. It lays down a comprehensive framework for the funding of the Board.

The Acid and Burn Crime Monitoring Board will consist of Secretary Interior (Chairperson), a representative from Bait-ul-Maal, two Parliamentarians, one medical professional with expertise in burn field, a lawyer, a judge, IG police, a NCSW member, a representative from Ministry of Industries and Production and two members from civil society.

Marvi Memon stated that she was hopeful that just like the previous Parliament had passed the 2010/2011 legislation unanimously, the 2014 legislation would also be passed especially since it was being done in the PML-N government.

She stated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was very sensitive to women issues and thus she felt that this legislation once passed would help eradicate the menace of acid and burn crimes.