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NA passes six bills

NA passes six bills


ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly passed as many as six bills including ‘The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Bill, 2016,’ ‘The Alternative Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017’ and ‘The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017’.

The House adopted a motion to suspend the routine business of the House and take up the legislation of private members’ business.

Surriya Asghar of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) presented ‘The Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Bill, 2016’ in the House for passage. The opposition members supported the Bill and the House passed it unanimously.

According to the Bill, “The government shall establish a Witness Protection Programme for protection and safety of a witness or any other related in respect of scheduled offences.”

The bill allows the witness to establish a new identity and conceal his identity by wearing a mask, changing his voice, appearance or any other form of segregation during the investigation or trial, or examination under the law. It also allows video conferencing in order to secure the protected person, provided that such arrangements are approved by the concerned authority under this bill.

The actions in Witness Protection Programme may also include: (i) relocating the witness; (ii) providing accommodation for the witness; (iii) providing reasonable financial assistance to the witness, whenever practicable, for obtaining a means of livelihood, (iv) providing compensation to the legal heirs, if the protected person is killed due to his participation in the programme, in case of death or permanent in capacity of the protected person during his protection, providing free education to his dependent minors; and (v) making special arrangements for security of witness for reasonable period of time.

The bill also proposed to establish a Witness Protection Advisory Board, which shall consist of: (a) secretary of the administrative ministry; chairperson and members (b) secretary Ministry of Law and Justice (c) Secretary Ministry of Finance (d) attorney-general for Pakistan (e) inspector general of police, Islamabad Capital Territory.

The board shall advise the unit generally on the exercise of its powers and performance of its functions under this Act.

According to the bill, the government shall prepare an annual report relating to the general operation, performance and effectiveness of the Programme which shall be laid before the Parliament.

Offences in respect of which a witness or related person may be placed under protection are; treason, sedition, murder, rape, public violence and robbery, and related incident to them are kidnapping, perjury etc.

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid tabled ‘The Alternative Dispute Resolution Bill, 2017’ in the House for passage. The House passed the Bill.

According to objects of the Bill, there is a maxim of law that “justice delayed is justice denied”. There is huge backlog of cases in both subordinate and superior courts of the country. Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as conciliation, arbitration and mediation can be used effectively for settlement of disputes to overcome delays, provide inexpensive justice and reduce tremendous burden on courts.

The minister said that it is a historic bill aimed at ensuring speedy justice. He said it will help reduce backlog of cases in lower judiciary. He said that the law would be imposed in Islamabad and urged the provincial governments to make such legislation for speedy justice.

Syed Naveed Qamar of Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) presented ‘The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ on behalf of Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho in the House for passage.

The Bill is an amendment in section 6 of sub-section 4 of the National Counter Terrorism Authority Act, 2013. According to amendment, “The Executive Committee may meet as and when required but it shall meet at least once in each quarter of a year”. Also the Board of Governors has been mandated to meet as and when required and at least once in a year.”

Syed Naveed Qamar also tabled ‘The Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2016’ on behalf of Dr Azra Fazal Pechuho in the House for passage.

According to objects of the Bill, there have been numerous reports at every election in recent years whereby women voters have been restrained from voting in the election as a result of an agreement or understanding among different persons which have included politicians, persons representing political parties, the clergy and leaders of the community.

This systematic process of disqualifying women is a clear violation of their fundamental rights and amounts to an outright discrimination and negation of rights guaranteed under Article 25 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

This bill is principally aimed at ensuring that in any election, in any constituency, if less than 10% of female voters have voted, the Election Commission of Pakistan shall declare the election of such a constituency void, and order re-polling within thirty days of the declaration of the decision of the Commission

Surriya Asghar also moved ‘The Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill, 2016’ in the House for passage. The House passed the bill with majority.

The main objective of the Bill is to provide a specific timeline to complete the process of land acquisition i.e. one year from the issuance of notification which otherwise will be revoked. The purpose of this amendment is to bind the government authorities to complete the requirements within a given time frame so that a never ending process of land acquisition may be stopped.

Sheikh Salahuddin of MQM tabled ‘The Provincial Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ in the House for passage. The House passed the bill unanimously.

The bill seeks to amend the law for enhancing payment of compensation to victims of traffic accidents travelling in public transport vehicles; ensure insurance of public transport vehicles’ commuters by reputed insurance companies and banks; and facilitate constitution of medical panels authorised to check or certify medial health fitness of applicants or grantees of public transport vehicles.

Minister of State for Education Muhammad Balighur Rehman also moved ‘The National Skill University Islamabad Bill, 2017’ in the House for introduction.

The chairman Standing Committee on Law and Justice also presented a report on ‘The Constitution (Twenty-seventh Amendment) Bill, 2017’ in the House.

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