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Police arresting women ignoring amendments

PESHAWAR, January 23,2005: The NWFP police have been overlooking the recent amendments in the law and arresting women for adultery without seeking court permission, informed legal circles said on Sunday.

It is learnt that the police have not been told anything as yet by senior officials regarding the detention of women and investigation in cases falling under the offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979.

After the enactment of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004, last month it has become binding on the police that no officer below the rank of superintendent of police should conduct investigation in cases falling under the Zina Ordinance.

Moreover, no woman can be arrested in such cases without the permission of the court concerned. A number of police officers contacted by Dawn expressed ignorance about any such amendment.

“Adultery is a cognizable offence and we are empowered under the Criminal Procedure Code to arrest an accused person in such cases without permission of the court,” claimed an investigation officer of a local police station.

Besides, he expressed complete ignorance about the recent amendments made in the Criminal Procedure Code. “We have not yet been conveyed any information in this regard by our superior officers,” claimed the same investigation officer.

Another officer conducting investigation in a recent case, registered under the Zina Ordinance, stated that these amendments were impractical and they would not follow them.

Various amendments were made in the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code through the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004, popularly known as the “honour-killing law”.

The bill was first passed by the National Assembly on Oct 26 and then by the Senate on Dec 8, following which President Pervez Musharraf gave his assent to the law. Through Section 9 of the act amendments are made in Chapter XIV of the Criminal Procedure Code and section 156-A and 156-B are inserted after section 156.

Under section 156-A no officer below the rank of superintendent of police (SP) should investigate the offence against any person alleged to have been committed by him under section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code commonly known as the Blasphemy Law.

Similarly, the newly-inserted section 156-B provides guidelines for investigation against a woman in cases of fornication and adultery. Section 156-B states: “Notwithstanding anything contained in this Code, where a woman is accused of Zina under the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance, 1979, (VII of 1979), no police officer below the rank of a Superintendent of Police shall investigate such offence nor shall such woman be arrested without the permission of the Court.”

An advocate of the high court said that a few days ago in a case registered with the Faqirabad police station, a woman named Hidayat Bibi was arrested during the day in sheer disregard of the law.

He added that neither investigation in her case had been conducted by the SP concerned nor permission was sought from the magistrate for her arrest. He added that even the magistrate concerned ignored the law and did not inquire from the police as to why the law had been violated.

The woman was also given in the custody of the police by a local judicial magistrate for a single day. He added that in a similar manner the law was ignored in other districts of the province by the police.

The Faqirabad police have also claimed that they were not aware of these amendments and due to the same reason they had arrested the lady without permission of the court.
Source: Dawn