Efforts by the civil society and rights’ organisations to bring justice to victims of acid crimes saw the light of day on Tuesday when a bill proposing strict punishment for perpetrators of the heinous crime was passed unanimously in the National Assembly.
“Whoever victimises someone through the use of corrosive substance shall be punished with life imprisonment or imprisonment of either description which shall not be less than 14 years and a minimum fine of one million rupees,” read the newly introduced section 336B that amended the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860, and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1908.
Introduced by Marvi Memon and Begum Shahnaz from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) and Anusha Rehman Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the House passed the Acid Control and Acid Crime Prevention Bill, 2010’ with a consensus.
“The crime of throwing acid on women is becoming more common by the day. The main cause of it is the absence of proper legislation on this subject. In view of these circumstances, there has been an increasing need to make a comprehensive legislation in this regard,” said a statement revealing the objectives of the legislation.
In its annual report, the Human Rights Commission Pakistan (HRCP) had reported 30 incidents of acid throwing during the last year. With the realisation of the growing incidents of violence against women, the bill includes three specific clauses about acid crimes.
After the passage of the bill, Memon urged members for the implementation of the law in their respective constituencies. Bushra Gohar, chairperson of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Women’s Development, Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho, Advocate Anusha Rahman Khan, Fauzia Ejaz, Fauzia Wahab and others appreciated the role of the House on the legislation.
Meanwhile, newly elected PML-Q member of the National Assembly, Awais Ahmed Khan Legahri announced that he would sit on the opposition benches in reaction to his party’s decision to join the federal cabinet.
Speaking on a point of order, Legari requested the Deputy Speaker that he not be allocated a seat on the treasury benches till the creation of the new province (Seraiki) in Punjab.
“The PPP and the PML-Q leadership had assured us of constitutional amendment in the parliament for the creation of a separate province in Southern Punjab but my party (PML-Q) joined the government only on a statement issued by the presidential spokesman,” he said.
Asif Husnain of the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) highlighted as many as 1,000 illegal appointments in the Sui Southern Gas Company.
Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao censured senior minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi for his recent statement against the devolution of the health ministry, the Higher Education Commission and others saying that the same party (PML-Q) was the signatory of the 18th amendment constitutional bill and hence, cannot oppose the devolution process.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2011.