ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Law and Justice on Tuesday constituted a 40-member special committee in line with the requirement of Section 15 of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021, which will be headed by Parliamentary Secretary for Law Barrister Maleeka Ali Bukhari as its chairperson.

Under Section 15, the law ministry can appoint the special committee consisting of members deemed fit to function as pro bono or on an honourary basis.

The committee can take steps like reaching out to any federal or provincial ministry, division office, agency or authority for the purpose of effectual compliance with the anti-rape law. It has the authority to refer the matter to an appropriate authority for disciplinary action against the individuals who disregard any directive of the committee.

Besides Barrister Bukhari, the special committee will also comprise retired Justice Nasira Iqbal, Barrister Ambreen Abbasi (consultant and representative of the law ministry), J.R. Sultan (section officer of the law ministry), Amna Anwar Siddiqui (the committee’s secretary), representatives of the chief secretaries of the four provinces as well as Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir, director general of the Legal Aid and Justice Authority, a representative of the National Database and Regist­ration Authority (Nadra), Maria Taimur and Amna Baiq (PSP officers), Fauzia Viqar (senior policy and gender adviser), anchorpersons Maria Memon, Fareeha Idris and Alina Shigri, Barrister Muhammad Ahmad Pansota, Barrister Ambreen Qureshi, Barrister Taimur Malik, Barrister Hammad Raza Sultan, Sharafat Ali Chaudhry, GDP executive director Valerie Khan, trauma specialist Dr Khadija, additional police surgeon Dr Summaiya Syed, Nida Aly, Nida Usman, Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi, Mehwish Muhib Kakakhel, Muhammad Ali Nekokara, Barrister Syeda Jugnoo Kazmi, Legal Aid Society director Maliha Zia, Punjab Women Protection Authority chairperson Fatima Asif, MPAs Sidra Imran and Sumaira Shams, Child Protection and Welfare Bureau chairperson Sarah Ahmad, founder and CEO of Beti Ramma Shahid Cheema and forensic expert Dr Ayesha Sarwar.

The 40-member special committee will be headed by parliamentary secretary for law

The Senate Standing Commission on Law and Justice had on December 23 also summoned the inspectors general police and home secretaries of all the provinces as well as the Islamabad administration to seek details about implementation of the new anti-rape law.

Senator Barrister Syed Ali Zafar, who presided over the Senate committee’s meeting, had lauded the government’s efforts in promulgating the anti-rape law and highlighted that the main objection in the past had always been about its implementation.

The Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021 recently passed by parliament seeks to establish special courts and use of modern devices during the investigation and trial of rape cases. The special committee can also issue appropriate directives from time to time to Nadra to prepare a register of sex offenders the details of which will only be provided to a court of law or a law enforcement agency.

Under the law, the president will order establishing special courts throughout the country in consultation with the chief justice of Pakistan and appoint any person as judge of the special court who is or had been a sessions judge or additional sessions judge, or an advocate for a period of not less than 10 years and is not more than 70 years of age at the time of appointment.

The special court’s judge will have the same powers and jurisdiction as the sessions court and will be appointed for a period of three years but could be transferred to another special court within the same province.

Anti-rape crisis cells will also be established throughout the country. The cell will be headed by the commissioner or deputy commissioner of the area concerned as deemed fit by the prime minister and will also comprise the medical superintendent of a public hospital and the district police officer or a police officer heading a division.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2021

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