ISLAMABAD: The Senate’s standing committee on law and justice has asked the home secretaries and the police chiefs of the four provinces and Islamabad to appear before it with data about implementation of the new anti-rape law.

Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, who presided over the committee’s meeting on Thursday, lauded the government’s efforts for promulgating the anti-rape law, but said the main objections in the past had been about its implementation.

The Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021, passed recently by parliament, seeks to establish special courts and the use of modern devices during investigation and trial in rape cases.

The meeting was attended, among others, by Senators Shibli Faraz, Mohammad Azam Khan Swati, Azam Nazeer Tarar, Mian Raza Rabbani, Kamran Murtaza, Manzoor Ahmed Kakar and Mushtaq Ahmed.

Senate standing committee summons home secretaries, police chiefs

Ali Zafar, the chair, stated that after adoption of the law, incidents of rape in all the provincial metropolises and the federal capital had been reported in the press. He cited a news report according to which some people aided the rape of a 14-years-old girl.

He said it was unfortunate that laws adopted by the legislature for benefit of the majority were seldom implemented.

Ali Zafar noted that information received by him suggested the IGs and home departments were not yet aware about different provisions of anti-rape laws. Hence provisions relating to investigation and medical examination were not being followed.

He directed the law ministry to provide details of the steps taken to implement the anti-rape law.

Separation of powers

Barrister Zafar informed the committee that the Supreme Court had recently delivered some judgements about the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary as well as the scope and parameters of parliament.

He stated that parliament must safeguard its powers and jurisdiction under the Constitution and ordered that details of these cases be placed before the committee on the next date of hearing.

The committee, which examined a raft of constitutional amendments moved by former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani and others, observed that the legislature had the right to pass laws and since the separation of powers between different organs of the state was a constitutional matter, the issue demanded a thorough examination.

The committee dwelt at length on different constitutional amendments regarding the Senate’s role in coordinating with the provinces and bringing forth their grievances. The president’s powers relating to promulgation of ordinances also came up for debate.

But the discussion on these matters remained inconclusive as comments from various departments of the government were awaited.

The committee summoned a record of resolutions passed by the Senate regarding the proposed amendments.

Published in Dawn, December 24th, 2021

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