BY: SADIA QASIM SHAH
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has sent the much delayed Domestic Violence Bill to Council of Islamic Ideology to seek its advice as it believes that the matter involves interpretation of Islamic injunctions.
Law Secretary Mohammad Arifeen told Dawn that Domestic Violence Bill had been pending for the last two months with Council of Islamic Ideology where it was sent for interpretation.
“Since Islamic injunctions were involved in it so the law department sent it to CII after consultation with the social welfare and women development department for their advice on the draft,” said Mr Arifeen.
The Provincial Commission on the Status of Women, a recommendatory body on legislation related to women’s rights and working under the social welfare and women development department, had been putting its efforts behind the bill, however, the chairperson of PCSW, Neelam Turo, seemed unaware of the move of law department.
“It (the draft bill) is not yet sent to CII,” said Ms Turo, who argued that since CII was not a mandatory body so why should the draft law should be sent to it. “Why should we be the one sending the bill to CII when Sindh has not done so,” she added.
The Council of Islamic Ideology is a constitutional body that advises the legislature whether or not a certain law is repugnant to Islam, namely to the Holy Quran and Sunna. The Council has male members in majority and only one woman member, Dr Samia Raheel Qazi.
According to Article 227 and 228 of the Constitution, the official said, no law which was repugnant to Islam could be enacted so that was why draft of Domestic Violence Bill was sent to CII to get its view on it. However, under the Constitution, CII has to intimate within 15 days the government about how much time it would need to review the draft law.
The official said that they kept sending reminders to CII. However, he defended the delay saying that good laws took time to formulate. The federal government enacted in 2012 a law, identical to the draft bill of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“I have no hopes from CII after the way they have treated other issues involving women’s rights,” said Saima Munir, a rights’ activist. She wondered how the provincial government could send a draft law to CII when federal and Sindh governments had already enacted laws on the issue.
“Is Islam followed at federal level and in Sindh is different from what we follow here in the province,” Ms Munir questioned.
The Sindh government is so far the only provincial government which has passed Domestic Violence Law in 2013.
However, the official termed the law enacted by Sindh as “NGOs’ law” that could be challenged. “We want a domestic violence law for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which is in the light of Islamic injunctions and which is better than that of other provinces,” said Mr Arifeen.
The present provincial assembly has so far not passed a single law relating to women rights. The rights’ activists in the province have been lobbying for the legislation since the tenure of the previous ANP-led provincial government.
The Domestic Violence Bill was tabled in the provincial assembly during the previous government but PML-N and other parties like JUI-F resisted the draft law. Due to the opposition to the draft legislation, the bill was referred to a committee owing to which it lapsed as the term of the government was completed soon.