ISLAMABAD, Aug 24 The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill in its current form will fan unending family feuds and push up divorce rates, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) warned on Monday.
On August 3, the National Assembly passed a private bill to curb domestic violence.
In a statement, the council expressed reservations on the law, describing it as ambiguous and containing few reforms.
It criticised the movers of the bill for not taking into consideration the council's recommendations on domestic violence.
The council was previously embroiled in a controversy over reforms in the Muslim Family Laws Ordinance of 1961, sparking harsh criticism from religious scholars, which forced the government to send the law back to the CII for review.
Terming the law discriminatory, the council said the bill presumed that only women and children could be victims of domestic violence, ignoring the possibility of old, weak and indisposed men would suffer too.
“This is also against the cardinal principle that everyone is equal before the law and must be treated on a par.”
The council was also wary about giving greater role to police in family affairs, warning that it would encourage corruption and bribery and said that the police would trample the sanctity of home.
About punishments suggested in the bill to curb domestic violence, the council said the same penalties were already prescribed in the Pakistan Penal Code, Qisas and Diyat and the Family Laws.
”Only non-execution of these statutes has resulted in the alarming increase in domestic violence.”
The council criticised that the National Commission on Status of Women had been authorised to review laws contrary to women's rights, despite the CII being constitutionally empowered to do so under Article 230.
Piloted by PPP activist Ms Yasmeen Rahman, the bill defines domestic violence as intentional acts of gender-based or other physical or psychological abuse committed by an accused against women, children or other vulnerable persons, with whom the accused person was or had been in a domestic relationship.
The bill authorises an aggrieved person, or anyone authorised by that person, to move an application in a first class magistrate's court, and binds the court to fix a hearing within three days and decide the case in 30 days.
However, the law also make filing a false complaint punishable with imprisonment of up to six months or a fine of up to Rs50,000, or both.
The bill provides that while the federal government will take steps for implementing the law, all provincial governments will constitute a 'protection committee' comprising two police officers and two women councillors besides appointing a 'protection officer' in each tehsil, or sub-district, who would be responsible for informing the aggrieved persons of their rights and help them in filing their cases.