Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill: NA bill stipulates stricter punishment for thieves

Adopts five resolutions, refers bills to relevant committees for further consideration

Qadeer Tanoli September 20, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly adopted five resolutions on Tuesday and referred bills to relevant committees for further consideration. They also passed a bill moved by a lawmaker from the MQM, The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014.

It stipulates stricter punishment for petty criminals.

The five bills introduced to the house were Controller General of Accounts (Appointment, Functions and Powers) (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017, the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017 (Amendment in Article 160), the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017 (Amendment in Article 198) and the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2017 (Amendment in Article 25-A).  All these bills were referred to relevant committees for further deliberations.

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A bill pertaining to mandatory drug tests for students was dropped as the concerned National Assembly member (MNA) was not present in the house.

There were a total of nine reports presented in the house by the Standing Committee on Interior, around nine bills and one report by the Standing Committee on National Health Services on a legislative proposal.

Another bill related to the Acid and Burn Crime Bill, 2017 was deferred due to the absence of mover.

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The house discussed a motion under Rule 259 regarding excessive billing of electricity for over 50 minutes. Nine lawmakers spoke on the issue while the minister for power winded the debate up.

The house took up a Calling Attention Notice (CAN) regarding the closure of foreign branches of United Bank Limited and Habib Bank Limited. The parliamentary secretary for finance responded to the notice.

‘The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2014, which was passed, was moved by MQM lawmaker Kishwar Zehra.

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In the existing PPC section 379, there is a provision that stipulates at least three years of imprisonment, with or without a fine, to those caught stealing. However, this punishment has hardly deterred criminals, said the bill in the reasons and objectives section. Furthermore, it stated that there are gangs of thieves who are also operating in entire provinces and districts instead of just cities. Many of these gangs are also encouraged by the lack of efficient police officers or actual police support in some cases. Stricter punishments should be meted out to actually deter criminals and to bring down crime rates.

Another bill, Constitution Amendment Act, 2017, was also moved by a MQM lawmaker seeking amendment to Article 160.

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According to the details of this bill the amount received by the provincial government under National Finance Commission (NFC) Award shall be distributed in the districts of the province. It will be equitable and in the interest of the public to distribute the amount as per the formula agreed between the federation and the provinces, according to the NFC agreement.

Another bill seeking Amendment to Article 198 of the constitution was also introduced in the house but was referred to the standing committee concerned. This bill was also moved by a lawmaker of MQM. It seeks establishment of new benches of the high courts, particularly in Punjab.

The NA was informed that a committee headed by State Bank deputy governor has been established to improve the operations of foreign branches of Pakistani banks and bring them on a par with international standards.

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Responding to a calling-attention notice, Finance Parliamentary Secretary Rana Muhammad Afzal said the committee was established after HBL's decision to close its branch in New York.

Responding to the motion on excessive bills, State Minister Abid Sher Ali said that mobile metre reading system has been introduced in different areas of the country to check electric billing. He assured the parliamentarians that their reservations pertaining to overbilling and load-shedding would be addressed soon.

Debating on the motion under rule 259 Jamat-e-Islami MNA Sher Akbar Khan discussed the situation arising out of excessive billing of electricity. He asked the high-ups of the ministry of energy and power to take action against the culprits in power distribution companies.

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Another lawmaker Sahibzada Triqullah said that the officials in his area that are concerned about the excess billing are making the issue more about him than the billing. He said that MNAs have lost respect in PML-N’s tenure.

Malik Ibrar of the ruling party, however was of the view that since people are getting electricity for 22 hours, they should tolerate excess billing.

Haji Ghulam Talpur said Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa is generating electricity on a large scale and yet its people face a lot of load shedding and are billed in excess. He said in case there is a fault in transformers, people are even willing to gather money and donate it for repairs.

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Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians’ Abdul Sattar Bachani said that an imambargah in his constituency was given an electricity bill amounting to Rs400,000. He said when this issue was taken up the real bill turned out to be a mere Rs400.

Fahmida Mirza asked the house to a pass resolution condemning the act of erecting anti-Pakistan billboards about Balochistan in Geneva. She added, “I was hoping that the house will send out a strong message about the grave issue, however, we have missed our chance.”


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