ISLAMABAD: The Senate passed on Friday a bill asking the government to protect the rights of unattended orphans below the age of 15 and provide them free education and healthcare facilities.

The Unattended Orphans (Rehabilitation and Welfare) Bill, 2016 calls upon the government to establish a welfare fund with an initial grant of Rs50 million and contribute to the fund from time to time.

Under the bill, the government is bound to provide free education, books, writing material, clothes, uniform and other relevant articles to the unattended orphans, send them to the child abode, provide them vocational training and gainful employment and, if required, take other measures as may be necessary for their rehabilitation and welfare.

Every unattended orphan will be registered in accordance with the provisions of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) Ordinance, 2000. Every child abode established under the act or prior to it as well as every orphanage established in the private sector shall be registered with Nadra.

The governing authority of a child abode or an orphanage will designate a guardian for the children. The name, CNIC number and designation with specimen signature of the guardian will be sent to Nadra and the same guardian will be considered as head for issuance of CNIC or child registration certificate (CRC) to the unattended orphan.

A person who forces any unattended orphan to beg and commit petty crime or pick rags or any act which is injurious to health and dignity of an orphan will be punished with imprisonment of not less than four years, which may be extended to seven years, and a fine of up to Rs200,000.

Those who sexually exploit unattended orphans in any manner whatsoever will be punished with imprisonment of not less than 10 years, extendable to life imprisonment, and a fine of not less than Rs500,000, which may be increased to Rs1 million.

If a person, who has already been convicted of an offence under the act or abetment of such an offence, commits the crime again, he will be punished with life imprisonment and fine of up to Rs1m.

The statement of objects and reasons of the bill moved by Senator Karim Ahmad Khawaja of the PPP says: “The unattended orphans and unknown parentage children in Pakistan are facing many problems. Our society is also facing problems due to non-provision of facilities like education, health and security of life to such children. They may involve in crimes and other social evils.”

22nd Amendment Bill deferred

Meanwhile, the chair deferred the 22nd Constitution Amendment Bill at the request of its mover Law Minister Zahid Hamid. The request was made in view of the thin presence of members as a two-thirds majority is required for constitutional amendments.

The upper house adopted a motion for representation of senators in the parliamentary committee being constituted to finalise terms of reference (ToR) of the Panama leaks probe commission.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani left the house before the passage of the motion in protest against failure to involve the upper house in a meaningful consultation over the parliamentary panel on ToR.

He said the motion was not part of the agenda and he had just been informed about it by the parliamentary affairs committee. He said he did not want to become an obstacle in the way of an issue relating to elimination of corruption, but added that he would not preside over the session during the process of motion’s adoption.

The house was prorogued sine die.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2016

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