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Government reconstitutes anti-rape special committee

ISLAMABAD: The federal government dissolved the anti-rape special committee formed by the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and notified a 26-member special committee comprising lawmakers, legal experts, bureaucrats, lawyers and medical experts.

As per the notification, “in pursuance of sub-section (1) of Section 15 of the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act, 2021, the Ministry of Law and Justice is pleased to appoint a Special Committee.”

The members will serve pro bono or on an honorary basis, according to the notification.

Previously, the 40-member special committee notified by the PTI government in December last year was headed by the then Parliamentary Secretary for Law, Barrister Maleeka Ali Bukhari, as its chairperson.

According to the new notification, former Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq will chair the committee, which will also include Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, chief secretaries of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtun­khwa, Balochistan, and Sindh, representatives of the National Database and Registra­tion Authority (Nadra), Pakis­tan Elec­tro­nic Media Regulatory Auth­o­rity (Pemra), and the law ministry, ex-prosecutor general Punjab Ehti­sham Qadir, ex additional inspectors general Kamal­uddin Tipu, Taimoor Ali Khan, advocate Ismat Mehdi, Khalid Parveen, Amb­reen Qureshi, Ghazala Yasmeen, Nida Ali and Sharafat Ali, development consultant Valerie Khan, Mohammad Ali Nekokara, Zainab Mustafa, anchor Maria Memon, Police surgeon Sumayya Syed and forensic expert Ayesha Sarwar.

The Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021, recently passed by parliament, seeks to establish special courts and use 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, special courts have been established throughout the country in consultation with the chief justice of Pakistan and may appoint any person as judge of the special court who is or has been a session 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 has the same powers and jurisdiction as the session’s 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 were established throughout the country. The cells are 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.

Source: Dawn