Senate body for adapting laws to changing crimes


ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of parliament will meet today (Monday) to take up and likely to approve the amended Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014. 
Under this law legal umbrella would be provided to the armed forces and law enforcement agencies to deal with those involved in heinous crimes and terrorism. The Senate Standing on Interior and Narcotics Control already unanimously passed Protection of Pakistan Bill, 2014. The committee discussed in details various clauses of the bill and agreed on enactment of the bill with amendment in clause that Grade 15 officers of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) would be authorized to issue shoot-out order. The committee was of the view that the trend of crimes had changed and now there was need to enact new laws according to the requirement of today.
They also said misuse of law in presence of powerful media, judiciary and parliament was not possible. According to the procedure, the bill, which has already sailed through the National Assembly, will be reverted to the lower house of parliament once approved by the Senate. Despite having passed the bill amid uproar and protest in the National Assembly, the government seems to have given in to the mounting political opposition to the bill. Subsequently, to avoid chaos witnessed in the lower house of parliament, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz led administration has incorporated a number of amendments proposed by members of the opposition – including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leaders Aitzaz Ahsan and Mian Raza Rabbani.
According to the amendments, the act shall remain in force for a period of two years, instead of three, from the date it would come into force. Under one of the amendments, the definition of enemy alien has been modified and now means a militant whose identity is unascertainable. Similarly, the detention period for an accused has been reduced from a period of 90 days to 60 days and special judicial magistrate would give orders of the judicial remand for an extendable period not exceeding more than 15 days.
It has also been recommended that all cases of firing which have resulted in death may be reviewed in a judicial inquiry conducted by a person appointed by the federal government. In comparison, the original bill only provides for an internal inquiry committee constituted by the law enforcement agency concerned. It has also been added in the bill that shooting orders would be given on the basis of credible prior information about a person and on apprehension of circumstances on the scene that a person can cause harm.
Additionally, it has been proposed that the government shall regulate the internment centres, internment camps, mechanism for representation against the internment orders and judicial oversight of such camps, subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) of Section 9. The judicial oversight was missing in the bill as passed by NA in April. The Senate session will be held tomorrow (Monday, June 30) evening and likely to approve the bill.

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