CII wants Hudood law reformed

Published June 28, 2006

ISLAMABAD, June 27: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) has recommended to the state to rewrite the Hudood ordinances to conform with the intents of Quran, Sunnah and Sharia, the CII announced on Tuesday.

A CII press release said the reframed law should be woven into the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

It said the Council, at the start of its 161st session, also decided to publish its report on the Hudood ordinances and passed a resolution suggesting that the women being kept in jail under Hudood charges should be released on bail.

These recommendations and decisions of the constitutional body have followed a campaign by the civil society and a private television channel against the much abused Hudood laws decreed by military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq in 1979.

Dr Khalid Masud, chairman of the CII, observed at a seminar held by Aurat Foundation on Monday that the arbitrary laws had polarised the society.

“We have to understand why Ulema take the (rigid) stand in favour of the Hudood laws. They stick to (religious) text and are trained to defend their particular Fiqh,” he said, seeking a “common forum” for reconciling opposite views.

Justice (retired) Javed Iqbal, the main speaker at the seminar, found Hudood ordinances bad law on many counts.

It was never laid before the parliament and was accepted as a “trade off” between martial law and political government, he said.

It violated the basic rule of modern criminal jurisprudence by stipulating that if there is not sufficient evidence to apply Hadd (divine punishment) to the accused, the court can award a different punishment, Tazeer, on the basis of lesser evidence. That led to corruption “and to notoriety of police officials who charge a higher fee for registering a case under Hadd instead of Tazeer”, the retired judge noted.

In contrast to the so-called Islamic law, he said the British colonial law gave the women named in cases of abduction, rape, enticement etc the status of complainant and not a co- accused, whether her consent was involved in the crime or not.

When he reported the harrowing cases of abuse of the Hudood laws to Gen Zia, the retired judge said the military ruler’s reply was that what he could do if the nation for which he had enforced an Islamic law was corrupt.

“It cannot be Allah’s law. It was blatant misuse of Islam to suppress basic human rights to perpetuate oneself in power,” said Justice Iqbal, adding that the courts had tried to soften the rigours of the Hudood laws.

Woman MNAs of the ruling party attending the seminar assured that the Hudood laws would be replaced by new legislation “within two months”.

Ms Misbah Sobuhi, a research scholar of Sharia, was an exception among the seminar participants in pleading to listen to the pro-Hudood religious lobby. “Convince the mullah that you are not echoing the ant-Islam agenda of outsiders,” she said, adding that “the (Hudood) law is Islamic but its results are un-Islamic”.

Dr Arfa Sayeda Zehra, chairperson of the National Commission on the Status of Women, concluded the seminar by observing that persuasion serves to win support to a proposition but rigidity in thought just feeds the ego.

“There is no tender notice for (speaking on) Islam,” she said quoting a religious figure’s words that “emotions and belief should not be given the status of Wahi (revelation)”.

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