ISLAMABAD: The government is all set to promulgate next week an ordinance seeking establishment of special courts for speedy trial of rape cases, suggesting steps for protection of witnesses and creating a separate prosecution network for this purpose.
This was said by Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan during an exclusive chat with Dawn hours after Prime Minister Imran Khan through a tweet announced that the government had planned to bring a “stringent and holistic anti-rape ordinance closing all loopholes”.
The prime minister had posted the tweet after talking to Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Sindh police Mohammad Bux Buriro on phone, who had played a major role with his daughter in the arrest of a man accused of raping a woman and her minor daughter in Kashmore.
Mr Awan, who is also a member of the Cabinet Committee on Legislative Cases, said the prime minister was very much concerned over the recent incidents of rape in different parts of the country.
He said the ordinance had been drafted in line with the prime minister’s directives to his legal team for preparing the law covering “four sides”, including protection of the victim so that her personal trauma could not become public and protection of witnesses.
Mr Awan said under the proposed law rape cases would not be investigated by ordinary police officials and only a gazzeted officer up to the level of DIG (deputy inspector general) or SSP (senior superintendent of police) would monitor these cases. He said the proposed law also suggested steps for speedy disposal of cases. He said in the last few years, over 21,000 rape cases were registered in the country and “only few hundreds of them could go for trial”.
To cover the loopholes and ensure timely justice, a new and separate prosecution network was being created, the adviser said.
Giving details, he said the properties of the convicts in such cases would be forfeited for paying compensation to the victims.
In order to create deterrence in the society, he said, “ultimate and stringent punishments” would be awarded to the culprits. He did not elaborate the measures which the law suggests for this purpose, but ruled out the option of public hanging as demanded by several political leaders, including some ministers.
Mr Awan said special courts would be set up in all the divisions to prevent delay in completion of the trials.
When his attention was drawn towards the criticism from the opposition over the government for relying on presidential ordinances for legislation, Mr Awan said the 18th Amendment had validated promulgation of ordinances which were considered “valid legislation” in many countries, including the US.
Moreover, he said, ordinances were promulgated when the parliament was not in session. He said since the parliament was not in session these days due to Covid-19 situation, ordinances could be promulgated by the government as per the constitution. And these ordinances, he added, eventually went to the parliament which finally enacted the laws.
As far as the opposition’s criticism was concerned, “the opposition loves and adores only one ordinance namely National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO),” he said in an apparent reference to the ordinance promulgated by the former military dictator Gen Pervez Musharraf in 2007 ending cases registered against people on political grounds.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan through his official social media account on Twitter lauded ASI Buriro and his daughter for showing bravery in the arrest of the Kashmore rape suspect.
“Spoke to ASI Buriro lauding his and his daughter’s exemplary initiative and courage in arrest of Kashmore rapist. The nation is proud of them and he has given positive uplift to image of police,” wrote the prime minister.
Sindh police had managed to arrest the alleged rapist of a woman and her four-year daughter in Kashmore with the help of ASI Buriro and his daughter, who trapped the main accused through a covert operation.
Speaking at a news conference in Karachi on Friday, Sindh government spokesperson Murtaza Wahab had said they would write to the Centre to bestow the highest police award on ASI Buriro and civil award on his daughter for the role they had played in arresting the main suspect.
The spokesperson’s comments came a day after a man was arrested for allegedly subjecting the woman and her minor daughter to rape for two days after duping the women with a job offer in northern Sindh’s Kashmore district.
Kashmore police had set up a trap by using a decoy, the daughter of ASI Buriro. The victim along with the ASI’s daughter contacted the main suspect over phone and invited him to a hotel where police arrested him.
Published in Dawn, November 15th, 2020