KP Assembly split over proposed legislation against domestic violence

Updated October 15, 2019

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The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly remains divided on the bill’s contents. Photo: File
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly remains divided on the bill’s contents. Photo: File

PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Domestic Violence against Women (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2019, which has been shuttling among different constitutional and legal forums since 2014, failed to sail through the provincial assembly on Monday.

As the house remained divided on the bill’s contents, the draft was referred to the Select Committee to thrash out 42 amendments proposed by the treasury and opposition members.

The lawmakers of religious parties insisted that many clauses of the bill were un-Islamic, so the advice of the Council of Islamic Ideology should be sought about them instead of holding a discussion on them in the assembly.

Food minister Qalandar Khan Lodhi moved the bill for consideration to hold a debate on the proposed amendments.

Bill sent to panel to mull proposed amendments

Like the previous assembly, lawmakers of religious parties in the incumbent house once again opposed the bill and termed certain clauses of the proposed law ‘un-Islamic’ and against the spirit of the Constitution.

They asked Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani to refer the bill to the CCI instead of discussing it in the Select Committee.

“Though we are not supporting domestic violence against women, we believe that certain clauses of the bill are in conflict with the teachings of the Holy Quran and Sunnah,” said MMA MPA Inayatullah Khan.

The opposition member said the CII was the most appropriate forum for seeking advice on the bill, so the bill shouldn’t be referred to the Select Committee.

He said Article 229 of the Constitution declared, “the president or the governor of a province may, or if two-fifths of its total membership so requires, a House or a Provincial Assembly shall, refer to the CII for advice any question as to whether a proposed law is or is not repugnant to the Injunction of Islam.”

The lawmaker also said Rule 84 of the provincial assembly’s Procedure and Conduct of Business Rules, 1988, suggested the seeking of the council’s advice on a proposed law if it was repugnant to the teaching and requirements of Islam.

MPA Munawar Khan of the MMA also spoke against the bill insisting that un-Islamic clauses were part of the proposed law.

He said the bill’s clauses were also in conflict with the culture and values of the local society.

Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan opposed the demand of the MMA MPAs.

He said lawmakers from both sides of the house had submitted proposed amendments to the bill, so there was no need to send the proposed law to the CII.

The minister suggested that the treasury and opposition be given equal representation in the committee.

Speaker Mushtaq Ghani said two-fifths of the house’s strength was required for referring a proposed law to the council, while the MMA didn’t have the required numbers to do so.

The bill was sent to the Select Committee.

The proposed law regarding domestic violence against women has been under discussion since 2014. Its draft has been discussed in seminars, workshops and conferences in Peshawar and Islamabad but the discussions remained inconclusive.

The previous PTI government had sent the bill to the CII in 2016 for advice due to opposition by the Jamaat-i-Islami, the then government ally, and other religious parties, which believed that the matter involved the interpretation of Islamic injunctions.

The council had returned the draft bill with reservations.

The assembly also passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Legal Aid Bill, 2019, and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Promotion, Protection and Enforcement of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

The session was prorogued afterward.

Published in Dawn, October 15th, 2019