KARACHI: DNA test in rape cases has been made mandatory by the Sindh Assembly with the adoption of the government bill titled the Code of Criminal Procedure (Sindh Amendment) Bill, 2017 passed unanimously on Thursday to facilitate investigation and ensure dispensation of justice to rape victims.
Under the bill, which was one of three bills passed one after the other by the house with consensus, the DNA sample shall be collected from the rape victim by the police officer within 72 hours from the time of the incident for testing through government-recognised laboratories.
The DNA sample and its results shall be preserved in confidentiality.
The two other government bills passed unanimously after brief discussion are the Sindh Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2017, which pertains to issuance of arms licences to persons who are permanent residents of Sindh and also to federal government and autonomous bodies’ employees belonging to other provinces but posted in Sindh.
The third bill, which was piloted by Transport Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, was the Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2015 pertaining to the rates of compensation which were revised in case of death and injuries to a passenger in a stage-carriage or contract carriage by amending the Provincial Motor Vehicles Ordinance, 1965.
By another amendment to the law the Sindh Bus Owners’ Cooperative Society was replaced with an insurance company to prevent the society from misuse/utilisation of the compensation funds as so far there was no example in which the SBOC society had ever paid compensation to the victim in an incident.
Syed Sardar Ahmad of the MQM opposed the amendment replacing the bank guarantee with insurance company as the victim or their heirs had to run for months to get compensation, but the motion was rejected when put to the house.
However, amendments suggested by Sumeta Afzal of the MQM about increasing the death compensation from Rs250,000 to Rs 500,000 and in case of loss of both eyes from Rs140,000 to Rs250,000 were approved.
Before reading out the order of acting Governor Agha Siraj Durrani at 2.40pm to prorogue the session sine die after completion of the agenda, the acting Speaker Syeda Shehla Raza gave the floor to PPP MPA Ghulam Murtaza Baloch to table his resolution by relaxing the rules under Rule 256.
Through the resolution the assembly recommended the Sindh government to approach the federal government for grant of 80 per cent subsidy on electricity bills for agriculture tube-wells in Sindh.
The resolution was supported by all parliamentary groups and when put to the house was carried unanimously.
Earlier, Senior Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Nisar Ahmad Khuhro speaking on the general principles of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2017 after its introduction said that in rape incidents, the cases were filed but no results could be obtained for want of evidence.
He said now the world was taking advantage of scientific research and technology by which the culprits involved in the rape could be identified.
He said some time back PPP MPA Sharmila Farooqui had also submitted a bill. He said as the DNA test had a lot of importance in identifying the persons involved in targeting innocent children, women in particular, therefore the government thought to declare the DNA test mandatory in cases of rape.
Sharmila Farooqui recalled that in 2013 her resolution was passed by the assembly for declaring DNA test mandatory in cases of rape.
She said that earlier, the samples for DNA tests used to be sent to Lahore and Islamabad, while reports were received after several months.
Faisal Sabzwari of the MQM said that it was a forward-looking legislation which will assist in providing justice to victims of rape and excesses.
He appealed to ulema to back the legislation.
Mehtab Akbar Rashdi of PML-F, Heer Soho and Naheed Begum of MQM, Dr Seema Zia of PTI and Minister Shamim Mumtaz supported the bill.
Health Minister Dr Sikander Mandhro dispelled the impression of not having any laboratory in Sindh for DNA test by pointing out that in Liaquat Medical University, Jamshoro, a DNA test laboratory was operational where in one day 10 samples could be examined.
Responding to a call attention notice of Dr Zafar Ahmad Kamali about misuse of the biometric system in schools of Mirpurkhas for sudden transfer of teachers, particularly of Urdu-speaking teachers and after greasing officials’ palms, they were restored, Education Minister Jam Mehtab Dahar denied the allegation.
He said there was no discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.
In reply to the call attention notice of Syed Anwar Raza Naqvi regarding illegal conversion of residential buildings into commercial use in F.B. Area/Buffer Zone, the local government minister assured the lawmaker he would initiate an inquiry and illegal constructions would be removed.
Diwan Chand Chawla of MQM complained about water shortage in Keamari through his call attention notice.
Local Government Minister Jam Khan Shoro said the government was making efforts to overcome the water shortage by installing RO plants.
Faisal Rafique of MQM through his call attention notice drew attention to increasing street crimes in which mostly women were being targeted.
Responding to the notice Senior Minister Khuhro said that the government had taken steps to overcome crimes.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2017