The government on Wednesday failed to get the Fair Trial Bill 2012 passed by the Senate after some lawmakers raised concerns over certain controversial clauses.
After brief debate, the Senate chairman referred the bill to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice, directing committee members to review it and present recommendations before the house on January 29.
In December last year, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) got the Fair Trial Bill 2012 passed by the National Assembly after incorporating several recommendations from the opposition in the lower house of the Parliament.
The nine-page bill seeks to provide a legal framework to agencies for carrying out surveillance of individuals suspected of involvement in criminal or terrorist activities. It suggests guidelines for law enforcement agencies to prevent the arbitrary use and abuse of interception powers.
Wednesday’s Senate proceedings witnessed back-to-back walkouts, first by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) over the law and order situation in Karachi, followed by the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and the Balochistan National Party-Awami (BNP-A) in protest against governor’s rule in Balochistan.
On a point of order, Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) Senator Syed Muzaffar Hussain Shah condemned the recent killings in Karachi.
Terming the incidents a conspiracy, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Senator Nasreen Jalil observed that “The MQM is a major victim of terrorism.”
Law Minister Farooq H Naek informed lawmakers that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) sent an estimated amount of Rs5.099 billion to the Ministry of Finance in the shape of a supplementary grant for the forthcoming general elections.
He also told the house that after the Public Defender Bill lapsed in the Senate and the passage of the 18th Amendment, he advised provincial law ministers to introduce such bills in their respective assemblies.
PML-N’s Zaffar Ali Shah, in turn, proposed that committees in bar councils dealing with free litigation issues be provided with extra allocations instead. Appreciating the proposal, Naek said he would invite all stakeholders to finalise an amendment in this regard.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2013.