Bill to amend blasphemy laws submitted in NA secretariat

Published: November 26, 2010

Rehman has submitted a private member bill seeking amendments

ISLAMABAD: Former minister for information and Pakistan Peoples Party legislator Sherry Rehman on Thursday submitted a private member bill in the National Assembly Secretariat seeking amendments to the country’s contentious blasphemy laws.

Rehman proposes that the death sentence (Pakistan Penal Code 295 C) be reduced to a 10-year imprisonment and recommends that the life imprisonment (section 295 B) be substituted with a five-year imprisonment sentence.

The move which is likely to incur the wrath of the country’s religious circles has been under discussion for a long time but up till now, no legislator dared to formally submit any such law due to the matter’s sensitive nature.

Though it is a private member bill and is likely to get across party lines support from the liberal legislators, the religious parties and some right wing parties will be strongly opposed to it.

Rehman has also proposed that a new section 203 A should be added to the PPC which states that ‘anyone making false or frivolous accusation under any of the sections of 295 A, 295 B and 295 C of the PPC shall be punished in accordance with similar punishments prescribed in the section under which the false or frivolous accusation was made”.

Another section has been proposed in the Penal code by the name of section 298 E under which any advocacy of religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination or violence shall be punishable with imprisonment of either description for an imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine or both.

The proposed legislation also calls for amendment in section 190 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1898, by adding a new subsection containing the words, “all offences falling within section 295 A, 295 B and 295 C of PPC shall exclusively be taken cognizance by the Court of Sessions and tried by the High Court”.

Another amendment proposed in section 201 of CrPC says that if a complaint is made in writing to a magistrate under sections 295 A, 295 B and 295 C of PPC, he will not take cognizance of it and will forward it to the proper sessions court. In the case that the complaint is not made in writing, such Magistrate shall direct the complainant to the proper Sessions Court.

Rehman has proposed several other amendments in schedule II of the CrPC. In case of offences under 295 A, 295 B and 295 C which deal with use of derogatory remarks against a holy personage, defiling a copy of the holy book and the use of derogatory remarks against the Holy Prophet (pbuh) respectively, the police will not arrest the accused without a warrant and such cases will be tried in High Courts only.

Anyone making false or frivolous accusations under section 295 A, 295 B and 295 C may be arrested without a warrant and such a person can be tried in Sessions Court.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2010.

Reader Comments (52)

  • Hamza Baloch
    Nov 26, 2010 - 9:26AM

    proposed that a new section 203 A should be added to the PPC which states that ‘anyone making false or frivolous accusation under any of the sections of 295 A, 295 B and 295 C of the PPC shall be punished in accordance with similar punishments prescribed in the section under which the false or frivolous accusation was made”.

    only this be added. no other change.Recommend

  • Liberal Tribune reader
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:01AM

    Good luck Sherry!Recommend

  • Talat
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:02AM

    Since it is a private member bill, the chances of it making it to the assembly’s priorities are small. If the government was serious in resolving the issue, it would have tried to introduce the bill through other more certain and efficient means. Recommend

  • Conservative Tribune hater
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:04AM

    Fatwa coming your way Sherry!Recommend

  • samina
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:07AM

    I think family of Asia should file a case against these women for wrongly framing her .Recommend

  • saher
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:11AM

    A step forward :)Recommend

  • BushraS
    Nov 26, 2010 - 10:48AM

    Like Ms Rehman said in her article: “This is the time to push for repeal of the blasphemy law in the legislature. If that does not work, just like the Hudood repeal bills did not when we moved them, we need to build positions and craft laws that amend these laws so they become toothless…”
    Thank you for your courage Ms Rehman. You make me be proud of being a Pakistani woman. Recommend

  • nasim ahmed
    Nov 26, 2010 - 11:00AM

    It seems to be a futile exercise to regain her position in her own party.She may be a very liberal person but the path she has chosen is not proper,she should have convinced her party for these ammendments.Recommend

  • Salman
    Nov 26, 2010 - 11:00AM

    Dear Sherry wish you good luck but i know nothing will happen in end. as your own govt will not support you and so called molives also become against you and they will pass on few fatwas against u. in the end they will say you are an Ahmadi as it is in routine in Pakistan who ever stoodu against them they just say like that. As this is sensitive issue i donot know why all political parties and even cheif Justice of Pakistan not talking any action against these Recommend

  • Sana N
    Nov 26, 2010 - 11:27AM

    Finally a practical step! Good Luck!Recommend

  • adraja
    Nov 26, 2010 - 11:58AM

    Well done Sherry and Good Luck! Its about someone took a step in the right direction. We must take Pakistan back to Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan. Down with mullahs and extremists!Recommend

  • KM
    Nov 26, 2010 - 12:23PM

    Why is the focus just on lowering the punishment levels? Why NOT focus on the framework that gives punishment, vice versa focus on giving equal punishment to those who wrongfully use the law? This amendment is more like “Carry on with your misdeeds that convict you under Blasphemy, and you are free after a few years, and at the same time the blaming party goes free even if they have wrongfully convicted someone for blasphemy”. Instead of focusing on a problem and uprooting it from its core, our parliamentarians allow playing with the law.Recommend

  • Sunny
    Nov 26, 2010 - 12:47PM

    A good step indeed!Recommend

  • parvez
    Nov 26, 2010 - 12:51PM

    Thank you for doing the right thing. Lets hope better sense prevails and the amendments get passed.Recommend

  • Muhammad Faran Hassan
    Nov 26, 2010 - 1:40PM

    Private member bill by a person who was a Journalist by profession only within 2 weeks of the Aasia Bibi case. Strange………. She might have a very good eye on all the clauses of PPC and CrPC pertaining to this particular law.

    Wonder how much she might have paid to the NGO, to buy this amendment bill? NGOs working against Hudood laws and Blasphemy laws might have tens of proposals ready in their archives against these laws. So, one is out.

    2 days back Sherry wrote to stand up against these laws but now she is proposing just amendments. Dair Ayed Durust Ayed.Recommend

  • iqbal
    Nov 26, 2010 - 1:49PM

    Bravo!Recommend

  • Ahmer Ali
    Nov 26, 2010 - 2:08PM

    Assalam-o-Allaikum Warahmatullah.This move is against the Quran and Sunnah and if you are succeeded in your mission to give relief and relaxation to the blasphemers in this country,then an another should be presented in NA and Parliament through which you could abusive words against any highly ranked officer especially against the armed forces officers or army officers,because Last Prophet Muhammad (APBUH) defined clearly that no one in you is a true believer unless for him/her I am the most honorable and respectable than his/her friends and next of kins (fathers,mothers,sons and brothers etc.,etc.) and in the light of this Hadeeth there is no any one who has to be ours much more beloved person than Last Prophet Muhammad (APBUH) and in other words you are allowing that any one can misuse any words against Last Prophet Muhammad (APBUH) any time. I think you have not read complete history that in the Last Prophet Muhammad (APBUH)’s regime and after in the Khliafat-e-Sahaba (R.A) how much blasphemers were killed.Recommend

  • Babruk
    Nov 26, 2010 - 2:22PM

    bravo! hats off to you sherry. the clerics policing our morality must be infuriated but stay cool and strong. lets defeat these hypocritical clerics who have appropriated Islam to themselvesRecommend

  • Arif
    Nov 26, 2010 - 2:39PM

    What logic Sherry has to convert the death sentence to 10 year imprisonment? And before suggesting any changes in this law due to its misuse she should have come up with the research that what are the other sections of PPC which are also being misused and she should present the statistics as to how many fraudulent cases are filed under blasphemy law and how many under section 302 and as to why it is more important to change blasphemy law alone.Recommend

  • sana
    Nov 26, 2010 - 2:53PM

    excellent work sherry. everyone should back this.Recommend

  • Jaju
    Nov 26, 2010 - 3:12PM

    Well done Sherry!. You are as brave as Benazir Bhutto, who was never scared of anyone!Recommend

  • Ali
    Nov 26, 2010 - 3:39PM

    Well done Sherry we all support you in this, Inshallah some good will come fo this!

    @Ahmer – blasphemy is wrong, but even worse is this law that allows innocent people to be accused of it, and then big crowds of mullahs come and kill them without any proof – that is not islamic, this law is not in accordance with Koran and Sunnah neither is the Hadood law!Recommend

  • @@
    Nov 26, 2010 - 4:01PM

    Best of luck, lets see what happens now ….. its a tough call for NA.Recommend

  • Maulana Halwa
    Nov 26, 2010 - 4:51PM

    Sherry, You have got what it takes to be a Leader, You have out shined your bosses and ex-colleague by showing courage and standing up for what you believe in especially under difficult surrounding. Someday I wish to see you as our national leader. “Way to go”Recommend

  • Ailia Zehra
    Nov 26, 2010 - 5:13PM

    Good Luck Sherry! Salute your courage. Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Nov 26, 2010 - 5:38PM

    it must change this law for god sake think about 10 million pakistani living abord.It is time to changRecommend

  • Mubarak
    Nov 27, 2010 - 12:49AM

    Please let us get rid of this Bla…… Bla……. altogether.Recommend

  • Rakesh
    Nov 27, 2010 - 1:00AM

    More power to you ma’am! We stand behind you.Recommend

  • Iqbal
    Nov 27, 2010 - 7:31AM

    samina:I think family of Asia should file a case against these women for wrongly framing her .
    Absolutely positively, until the falsely accused don’t turn back on these hawks they will continue on with their own style of blasphemy against anyone they don’t like.

    Ahmer Ali: no one in you is a true believer unless for him/her I am the most honorable and respectable than his/her friends and next of kins (fathers,mothers,sons and brothers etc.,etc.) and in the light of this Hadeeth
    *Yeah, this definitely gives all of us a license to point fingers at anyone that we don’t like based on our less than literate understanding of our beloved Prophet “Peace & Blessings be upon him”, hypocrisy at it’s ultimate high *Recommend

  • SJ
    Nov 27, 2010 - 4:20PM

    Well done Sherry although I wish that we would just repeal this notorious law. Recommend

  • IRFAN URFI
    Nov 27, 2010 - 4:45PM

    EXCELLENT ! GOOD INITIATIVE ! Recommend

  • SharifL
    Nov 27, 2010 - 5:27PM

    Good luck Ms Rehman. But be careful and watch out for the fanatics, who might try to harm you. It is a tiny minority, but intolerance is their greatest virtue.Recommend

  • hmk
    Nov 27, 2010 - 7:51PM

    Well done!
    It usually takes a woman , most ridiculed, most oppressed and most taunted to take the first step! Fear is the the key to apathy which has destroyed us all. Minority rules, minority threatens and the majority is hurled to the the barn, how shameless!Recommend

  • maestro
    Nov 28, 2010 - 1:20AM

    When did we forget that their is no religion clergy system allowed in Islam? That means no mullahs running peoples lives.Recommend

  • Anis Qureshi
    Nov 28, 2010 - 2:40AM

    Good job. Allah protect you from these extremist monsters.Recommend

  • Anis Qureshi
    Nov 28, 2010 - 2:43AM

    Male members of parliament should stand up in support of this courageous lady. PPP,MQM,ANP and liberals from PML should unite to undo this stupid law.Recommend

  • Samuel
    Nov 28, 2010 - 9:17AM

    BRAVO!!!Recommend

  • ismaeel
    Nov 28, 2010 - 11:12AM

    Hats off for taking a step!!! further steps are required to make the minorities to be proud to be a Pakistani…. wish to hear soon that Any Pakistani can be a president or Prime minister without any religious discrimination…Recommend

  • maz
    Nov 28, 2010 - 12:01PM

    Good work Ms Rehman at last someone has taken a stand appreciate your efforts in this case we pray that you stay safe and be more careful as many maulanz will be against this.
    We are proud that you have gone ahead with what you had said not like the representatives of christian community Shabaz Bhatti he just keeps on talking but does nothing.
    Its sad that the representatives of minorities are wolves in a sheep’s clothing. They will have to answer the Most Highest the day they go Up there.Recommend

  • Angelos
    Nov 28, 2010 - 1:11PM

    1) Instead of lowering punishments, we should introduce words like ‘deliberate’ or ‘intent’ in 295C. These are the key points missing in it, which makes it vague.

    2) Agree with notion of amendments in section 203 and section 190

    3) For those against death penalty, please read Imam Ibn e Taymiyyah’s book ‘Saarim ul Maslool’ or check this link: http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/misc/alshifa/pt4ch1sec1.htmRecommend

  • Nov 28, 2010 - 2:15PM

    We fully support this Bill and pray for Sherry Rehman. May God bless her abanduntly and give her more wisdom to solve this very serious issue.Recommend

  • Anthony
    Nov 29, 2010 - 1:27AM

    I just want to say to you Ms. Rehman that I will pray that you remain safe. Although I agree that I would rather see the insidious Blasphemy Law done away with altogether at least you are taking the first step. I would not like for you to end as Benazir Bhutto. With 2% +/- of the people, [mostly poorest of the poor], living in Pakistan who are Christians and who are unnecessarily singled out by this heinous law, more times than not because of bigotry and hatred by the radical population, and then killed before ever even reaching any court, it is about time to change and show what true Islam is about. It is not about bigotry or hatred. It teaches love and acceptance not unlike the Catholics, or other Christian religions. If more people would meet on a personal level perhaps this idea would become ubiquitous…I have been to Pakistan and have enjoyed mixing with Muslim and Christian alike. Was treated kindly by all which is the way I would think you should treat one another!

    Don’t you know why so many people want to leave Pakistan? They live here in the States peacefully along side other religions and do not shout Blasphemy, nor do the Christians shout “Blasphemy” to them for not believing in Jesus Christ, if they are Muslim. Everyone should be free to worship whomever they choose. It happens in America and it hasn’t destroyed any of the religions living peacefully side by side, as neighbors, who care about one another, who come together and help one another in hard times. That is what love is about and what every Holy Book teaches. We will all be judged according to how we have treated others and ‘we’ are not that “Judge!”

    I do not understand what the Mullahs or the radicals are afraid of. If as you believe no-on should be allowed to stay anything about whom ‘”you” interpret as Holier than Thou, and that you should inflict your beliefs on everyone or what? your world will come to an end? you aren’t already cowering in some corner. Live and let live is the premise. Why is there such a problem with that?

    Why is it in Pakistan that if a Christian child drinks from the faucets of a Muslim, you torture him horribly, dump his body on the street after cutting off his ear, and declare yourselves righteous even after committing ‘legalized’ murder..which is what this absurd law abdicates… then the next day send your children to a Catholic School for a good education. To me that is the blasphemy. What if a Muslim child was thirsty and he had to have a drink? Perhaps you would have him/her go thirsty so as not to foul the water source of a Christian? Water is giving my God, Allah, Adonai, Yahweh, Jahweh, what ever name you use, the One Supreme Being. We did not create it so it is not ours to own no more than one can own the skies, ocean, stars in the Heavens. I don’t think most people in Pakistan are like this, they are kind and gentle and loving but the few bad apples really make it difficult to change feelings of others who haven’t been there and experienced the wonderful hospitality of the Muslim people of Pakistan.

    That really needs to change or we will never have peace in our world. and believe me I am not only pointing the finger at Pakistan…just in this particular forum.Recommend

  • B
    Nov 29, 2010 - 3:24AM

    Well done Sherry. Every sensible Pakistani needs to stand up and support this amendment. We all have to make sure it is passed. This law is a black stain on Islam. The fanatics who support it are the ones committing blasphemy.Recommend

  • Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy
    Nov 29, 2010 - 12:53PM

    Bravo Ms Rehman- Finally a politician that is looking to make a difference- I am sure the religious right will be up in arms about this, but let them- They are more interested in role playing, than anything else…Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 7:48PM

    Everybody should encourage and appreciate Sherry Rehman to at least initiate the process, we demand for the complete abolishment of these laws. It is very strange that Prophets of God needs human being only from our country to protect and defend their honor and respect. Big shabash to Sherry for the courage and proving herself at the side of poor and downtroddens victims of Blasphemy law Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 7:50PM

    Everybody should encourage and appreciate Sherry Rehman to at least initiate the process, we demand for the complete abolishment of these laws. It is very strange that Prophets of God needs human being only from our country to protect and defend their honor and respect. Big shabash to Sherry for the courage and proving herself at the side of poor and downtrodden victims of Blasphemy law Recommend

  • Nov 29, 2010 - 9:49PM

    I think if real changes were to be brought in, she would have proposed the following changes in a seperate bill. Combining the following with the proposed amendments to 295 B and C, these changes will be also be rejected by the National Assembly. I think the following changes are more beneficial than the proposed amendments to 295.

    amendment in section 190
    new section 203 A
    amendment proposed in section 201 Recommend

  • AZMAT KHAN
    Nov 30, 2010 - 3:02AM

    SHERRY YOU ARE A BRAVE WOMAN.GOOD LUCK.Recommend

  • fatima
    Nov 30, 2010 - 6:59PM

    blasphemy law should be done away with,times have changed, laws should be devised, argued and based on the present, most of all to protect people of all religions and races.Recommend

  • LM
    Dec 1, 2010 - 6:22AM

    It’s refreshing to see Sherry Rehman propose changes to the Bill, but why is it that the changes only include reductions of the penalty? Is it not the penalty itself that is ridiculous and not its extent? Pakistan’s parliament and its office-bearers come across as preposterous when they look to better their country by seeking alliances with the power-houses of the world, such as USA and England, and then on the other hand turn a murderous sword to the Christians, Ahmadis, Hindus living in their own country. What kind of a government pays so much attention to the beliefs of its citizens but no attention to the physical welfare of it’s citizens? It’s about time the government realized the extent of its own hypocrisy and rid itself of the pestilence that is the Blasphemy Laws. Hopefully Pakistan will be guided to make the right decision and will make laws to promote peace, rather than to eradicate it. Recommend

  • Arif
    Dec 1, 2010 - 1:12PM

    For all those who are in favour of Sherry for this bill, I would like to suggest a must read column as follows:

    http://www.express.com.pk/epaper/PoPupwindow.aspx?newsID=1101110707&Issue=NP_LHE&Date=20101201

    Hopefully, you people will be able to revisit your thoughts expressed over here.Recommend

  • Anonymous
    Dec 20, 2010 - 11:21AM

    What I feel and think is that if the laws do not change then other Countries should support all our Minoritories and remove us from this place. Cause there is no way that Pakistan can ever change. Trust me. Its about time our church leaders should take a bold step and support this.Recommend

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