ISLAMABAD: The Law and Justice Commission will suggest amendments in the law to check the practice of offering girls and women in marriage to settle feuds between two tribes on the intervention of jirgas and panchayats.
A meeting of the commission, chaired by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry at the Supreme Court building here on Saturday, took a serious note of the practice of Badal-i-Sulha (compensation for compromise) in rural areas.
The chief justice said there was a need for fresh legislation on issues related to public importance and bringing the existing ones into accord with the changing needs of society.
He stressed the need for simplification of laws for easy comprehension and removing inconsistencies. Justice Iftikhar urged that legislation should be made after due process as provided in the Constitution.
He said: “The system of administration of justice revolves around the provisions of Constitution which provides safeguards for fundamental rights of the citizens; therefore, it is incumbent upon all the institutions to adhere to the provisions of Constitution in discharging their functions.”
Although Pakistan ratified UN Convention on the Rights of Child in 1990 that prohibits child marriages, it seldom honours the commitment and girls are commonly offered into marriage either in exchange for money because of extreme poverty or for settling disputes with the exchange of girls known as vani or swara and the use of girls as compensation for crimes.
The official announcement issued by the commission did not specify the provisions of law proposed to be amended, but legal experts were of the view that it was talking about the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929, which suggests simple punishment of one month or more with a very meagre amount of fine, and some amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code.
The amendments to be suggested would focus more on introducing stringent punitive actions against those involved in the heinous crime against women.
Advocate Naseer Ahmed Chaudhry when asked to comment was not approved of bringing any amendment in the law and said it was the failure of the authorities concerned to take notice of infraction in laws because of their laidback attitude in strict implementation of regulations.
The commission also examined proposals for the repeal of Federal Court Act, 1937, and recommended that the enactment being redundant should be repealed.
The Government of India Act, 1935, had envisaged for the first time the concept of the federal court that had the jurisdictions to decide matters in dispute between the central government and the states (provinces) then. Thus the federal court was constituted in 1937 with Sir Mauris Gwyer being the first chief justice of the federal court of India.
After the creation of Pakistan, a similar federal court was constituted and the jurisdiction exercised by the Privy Council in relation to appeals coming from the high courts was conferred to the federal court by enacting the Privy Council (Abolition of Jurisdiction) Act, 1950, by the constituent assembly of Pakistan.
The federal court continued to function till 1956 when the first constitution of Pakistan was adopted and the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) was created while the jurisdiction exercised by the federal court was conferred on the SCP. Thus the federal court act becomes a dead letter.