KARACHI    -        The Sindh Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to curb the menace of Gutka, Mainpuri and other derivatives as a person involves in production, sale, purchase, possession, import and export of such sub-standard items would be jailed for up to three-year.

Standing Committee on Law and Parliamentary Affairs and Human Rights’ Chairman Pir Mujibul Huq presented the report on ‘The Sindh Prohibition of Preparation, Manufacturing, Storage, Sale and Use of Gutka and Mainpuri Bill, 2019 ‘—the bill introduced earlier in ongoing session—. Mujib said that previously, there was no legislation for sentencing the persons involved in manufacturing and sale of Gutka and other derivatives.  “We held four meetings of the standing committee and have taken all concerned departments including police on board,” he added.

When the Minister for Information Minister Saeed Ghani moved the bill clause-by clause for consideration, Opposition Leader Firdaus Shamim Naqvi suggested that it should be considered later ‘as we received its copy just now and want some time to bring amendments’. When the Deputy Speaker Rehana Laghari turned Naqvi’s request, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Grand Democratic Alliance staged walkout but later, they returned.

According to media reports, the gutka, mainpuri and other relating derivatives are dangerous and a major cause behind cancer and cardiac illness,” the statement of objects and reasons read. It added that the tobacco consumption is one the biggest challenges confronting the people. “In order to impose ban on import, export, manufacturing sale and purchase of gutka, mainpuri and its derivates, it is expedient to enact the law in the subject matter.” the statement of objects and reasons read.

‘Punishment’

According to the bill, no person could produce, prepare, possess, offer for sale, distribute, import, export and deliver such sub-standard items. “No person shall own, manage, operate or control any premises, place, equipment or machinery for the purpose of manufacture or production of gutka, manpuri and its derivatives,” a clause of the bill read. It added that whosoever found involved in these offences, would have to undergo imprisonment which may extent to three years but should not be less than one year along with a fine of Rs 200,000. “In case of default of payment of fine under, the accused shall undergo an additional imprisonment extending to six months and in case of subsequent offence, shall be punished with imprisonment of five to 10 years along with a fine of Rs 500, 000,” it added. A clause of the bill read that if the court should also order forfeiture of the convict’s assets derived from the business related to manufacturing and sale of Gutka and other derivatives.

 ‘Entry without search

warrants’

After the bill’s enactment, an officer—not below sub-inspector rank— on credible information and with prior permission of the concerned SSP could enter any premises without a search warrant from a magistrate ‘not to give the suspect an opportunity for the concealment of evidences’. But the officer would also have to face imprisonment of up to three years along with Rs 300,000 fine for vexatious entry.

Student unions bill

During the proceedings, Information Minister introduced ‘The Sindh Students Union Bill, 2019’ to establish an effective system to regulate student unions across the province. After the introduction, the bill was sent to standing committee on home which has been assigned to further deliberate and bring it back to the house within two weeks. ‘The Sindh Safe Cities Authority Bill, 2019’ was also introduced and sent to the standing Committee on law and parliamentary affairs and human rights. Separately, the house unanimously adopted a resolution moved by the Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to condemn India’s Citizenship Amendment Act which ‘aimed’ at systemically marginalise and exclude Muslims.

“This House recognises with deep dismay, the continued atrocities being meted out by Prime Minister Narrinder Modi’s government on Muslims across India and the Indian Occupied Kashmir,” the resolution read. It added that the Assembly categorically condemned the unilateral lockdown of Indian Occupied Kashmir for over 130 clays and the State sanctioned brutalities on its innocent residents.

“This house also laments the violence by Indian Law Enforcement Agencies on Muslim students exercising their right to protest and recognizes the alarming rise in incidents of fascism and violent extremism towards Muslims in India during the BJP government. The Sindh Assembly rejects India’s recently passed Citizenship Amendment Act which seeks to systemically marginalise and exclude Muslim,” the resolution read.

The provincial assembly also expressed dismay at the silence of the international community over continuing violations of fundamental human rights and demanded the federal government to approach the United Nations to censure Indian authorities over its persistent and targeted persecution of Muslims.