ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly is set to take up on Monday (today) an important bill seeking amendments to various laws with an objective of strengthening criminal justice system and enhancing punishment in various offences to effectively curb terrorism and extremism in the country.
The Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is placed in the name of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the agenda issued for the Monday’s session of the National Assembly which will be meeting after a two-day recess.
The bill, which has already been passed by the Senate, proposes amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), 1860; the Police Act, 1861; the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; the Qanoon-i-Shahadat, 1984; the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014; and Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
Through an amendment to Section 182 of the PPC, the punishment for giving false information to a government servant that causes him to use his lawful powers to injury was increased from a maximum of six months to up to seven years in case the offence about which information has been given is punishable with death and five years in case it is punishable with life imprisonment.
The amendment prescribes the same punishment for inciting religious, sectarian or ethnic hatred by using loudspeaker, sound amplifier or any other device.
Another amendment to the PPC has suggested enhanced punishment in cases of forced marriages.
Section 498-B of the PPC in its present form reads: “Whoever coerces or in any manner whatsoever compels a woman to enter into marriage shall be punished with imprisonment of description for a term which may not be less than three years and shall also be liable to a fine of Rs500,000.”
The Section 23 of the Police Act, 1861, outlining duties of a police officer is also being amended to include in them through the law prevention of sectarian and hate speeches and proliferation of hate material by any person, organised group, organisation or banned outfit.
Through an amendment to Section 29 of the Police Act, the punishment for officers guilty of any violation of duty, wilful breach or neglect of any rule, regulation or lawful order made by a competent authority, has been increased from confiscation of three-month salary or imprisonment not exceeding three months to imprisonment of up to three years with Rs100,000 fine.
Every person opposing or not obeying the lawful orders of superiors or violating the conditions of any licence granted by a district superintendent or assistant district superintendent of police for the use of music or for the conduct of assemblies and processions will now have to undergo imprisonment for up to three years with fine, under an amendment to Section 32 of the Police Act.
The Statement of Object and Reason of the bill says: “Terrorism, sectarianism and extremism have gripped the entire country and these acts have become the order of the day. The country is passing thorough an extraordinary situation, which requires stringent measures to be taken to curb this menace that has infiltrated society.”
The same bill had earlier been passed by the National Assembly in May last year, but the Senate approved it with some amendments thus making it necessary for the government to get it passed from the lower house of parliament again.