ISLAMABAD: Senators on a parliamentary committee on Thursday suggested that emotions should not take over rationality in amending the Constitution for the provision of death by hanging publicly.
“If you can keep your head when all about you, are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” Senator Aitzaz Ahsan said while quoting the introductory lines of Rudyard Kipling’s famous poem ‘IF’ while commenting on the issue.
He said there were calls for stoning and crushing of the accused in Zainab rape and murder case but the house should discuss the issue threadbare and then decide.
Nation demands Zainab's culprit be hanged publicly
The issue was being discussed at a meeting of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice held in Parliament, a day after the upper house referred it to the panel while failing to reach a decision.
Senator Rehman Malik had proposed an amendment to section 364-A of the PPC, saying the small amendment would send a strong message and help prevent incidents of sexual assault and murder of small girls.
“Even if this law gets passed from Parliament, someone will challenge it in Supreme Court, if not anyone I will be the one to take it to the court,” said Barrister Ali Saif. “Legislation should not be person-specific and we must not make laws that humiliate human beings,” he added.
Commenting on the matter, Attorney General for Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf said investigation, collection of evidence and prosecution should be fair and timely in such matters. He said the Supreme Court had already said it was a violation of human rights.
He suggested that the Supreme Court Bar Association, the Law and Justice Commission and other forums should be taken into confidence and their viewpoint must be taken to reach a consensus.
Senator Farhatullah Babar, who attended the meeting on a special invite, also opposed the amendment. “Our criminal justice system is broken to the extent that recently two brothers were acquitted by a court and later it occurred that both were hanged over a year ago,” he said.
By passing this amendment, he said, they would open a window for injustice as people would demand more and more such laws.
Chairperson Council of Islamic Ideology Dr Qibla Ayaz said “the rationale for punishment in Islam is deterrence”, adding that the accused in Zainab’s case was involved in abduction, rape and murder, and there must be a severe punishment to stop other perpetrators.
Awami National Party’s Sitara Ayaz said emotions should not be the driving force for the legislation and such suspects could be punished.
Two senior lawyers from the Islamabad Bar Council and the Pakistan Bar Council also opposed public hanging and stated such acts would have impact on psychology of public.
"Zainab's murderer should be hanged publicly, be made an example of": Rehman Malik to Senate
“Public hangings can have dismay, despondency and frustration among the general public, particularly children,” said an official of the Pakistan Bar Council who attended the meeting.
He said the issue was not punishment but the delay in the law taking its due course that frustrated public and litigants. Another lawyer stated there should be specification of punishment for such hangings but not every other crime.
Later, upon the directives of the Ministry of Law and Justice it was decided that another meeting would be held in the coming days to which all stakeholders, including chief secretaries and senior police officials from all provinces, would be invited for their viewpoint on the issue.
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