ISLAMABAD - Senate Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication on Wednesday constituted a sub-Committee to thoroughly examine the Prevention of Electronic Crime Bill, 2016.

The bill was referred to the committee by the Senate on 17th May, 2016 for consideration.

Members of the committee under the chair of Senator Shahi Syed were unanimous that the bill requires a detailed consideration and realised that the stakeholders need to be taken into confidence to add more solidity to this piece of legislation.

It was pointed out that Senator Karim Khawaja, who introduced a private member bill, would also seek views from the stakeholders through public hearings to formulate solid recommendations.

It was announced that the Sub-Committee would comprise Senators Osman Saifullah Khan, Convener and Syed Shibli Fraz and Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi as its members.

The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill was approved in the National Assembly (NA) in April this year. After approval of Senate it would become law.

The bill has been controversial since it was presented. Civil society criticised it for curbing human rights and giving overreaching powers to law enforcement agencies.

Bill was referred to the NA Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication to address concerns raised by the opposition members and stakeholders from the industry.

The government defended the new legislation by arguing that country was going through a war and under extra ordinary circumstances it was need of the time.

Opposition has been alleging that the new legislation is actually to authorise the PML-N against social media activists who have been defaming the present government by breaking new scandals.

The committee also discussed the affairs of TIP Cooperative Housing Society with reference to details of total land acquired, number of plots and irregularities committed during allotment of plots. 

Chairman of the Committee informed that the Committee had earlier visited TIP Colony, Schools, Hospitals and its allied facilities. Details of 2451 kanals of land waere placed before the Committee and there was no mention of the 1000 Kanals. 

The members expressed concern over the issue and called for a detailed investigation. State Minister for IT Anusha Rehman admitted that irregularities have been found and the issue has been referred to NAB for a thorough investigation.

The meeting was attended by Senators Taj Muhammad Afridi, Mufti Abdul Sattar, Najma Hameed, Karim Ahmad Khawaja, Rubina Khalid, Abdul Rehman Malik, Osman Saifullah Khan, Syed Shibli Fraz, Gianchand, Sitara Ayaz, Muhammad Mohsin Khan Leghari and Farhatullah Babar.