By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to amend the honour killing and rape laws in Pakistan in the next joint session of parliament and will decide rape cases within six months and treat the crime of honour killing as ‘Fasad Fil Ardh’ to ensure punishments.
The Prime Minister’s key legal aide Barrister Zafarullah Khan told ‘The News’ here on Saturday that following the premier’s direction, a committee of top legal minds of the government has prepared the draft law, which is expected to be finalised next week for amendment by parliament.
Khan said that besides him, Federal Minister Zahid Hamid and Special Assistant to the Pirme Minister Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed are working on the amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) in line with the Constitution and Islamic teachings.
Regarding rape cases, Khan said that almost seven amendments are being proposed to ensure that rape victims get justice without any delay and exploitation.
The proposed amendments include the medical examination of the victim by a doctor within 24 hours to avoid any delay following any pressure or for any other reason. However, for the medical examination, the consent of the victim will be mandatory. In case of the accused offender, reasonable force can be used for his medical examination.
Another amendment in the PPC will entail three years punishment for the doctor, police investigation officer and the prosecutor in case any of them is found involved (intentionally) in spoiling the medical, investigation or prosecution of the case in a court of law.
Another amendment being proposed will set a six months period for the court to decide a rape case. It is also being proposed that the name of the victim should not be publicised without her or the court’s consent.
The PPC will also be amended for an in-camera trial of rape cases unless the victim decides otherwise.
In the case of honour killings, the PPC is being amended to treat the crime as ‘Fasad Fil Ardh’. This is being done to authorise the court whether to accept or reject a compromise between the complainant and the killer who in most cases of honour killing have blood relations.
Zafarullah Khan explained that generally the complainant and the killer in honour killing cases do this crime with mutual understanding. For example, the father or mother becomes a complainant in the case of his/ her daughter’s murder by a brother or any other close relative.
During the trial of such cases, the complainant (father/ mother) usually forgives the killer (son/ close relative) and thus the court has no option but to release the killer. With the proposed amendment, Khan said, the courts will have the power of whether to accept or reject a compromise in honour killing cases.
The PM’s aide said that the committee of experts is expected to finalise the draft changes in the PPC by Tuesday next following which the draft law will be presented before parliament.
He said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is keen to get these amendments through in the forthcoming joint session of parliament. Zafarullah Khan said that these amendments are being made in line with Islamic teachings to protect the rights and honour of women.