ISLAMABAD: Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Babar Awan has written a letter to National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, seeking a review of the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021, by the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), a constitutional body that advises the legislature on whether or not a certain law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam. In the letter dated July 5, 2021, Awan has pointed out that the bill, initially passed by the National Assembly (NA) in April this year, was referred back to the Lower House of Parliament after the Senate suggested amendments to the proposed law.
The letter further states that concerns have been raised “regarding various definitions and other contents of the bill.” It adds: “Most importantly it is being highlighted that the bill contravenes the Islamic injunctions and way of life as enshrined in responsibility of the state in Article 31 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan”. Citing Article 230 (1) (b) of the Constitution, the letter says it “empowers the Islamic Council (CII) to advise a House, a Provincial Assembly, a President or a Governor on any question referred to it as to whether proposed law is or is not repugnant to the injunctions of Islam”.
Moreover, under Article 230 (1) (a), the body can make recommendations to parliament regarding ways and means to encourage Muslims in Pakistan to lead their lives, individually and collectively, in accordance with the principles of Islam, Awan has stated in the letter. On these grounds, he wrote, it is advisable that the bill be referred to the CII.
Passage of the bill: The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2021, was initially moved in the NA by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari on April 19, 2021, and was passed by the Lower House the same day. Through this act, a legal and institutional framework had been proposed for the territorial jurisdiction of Islamabad to ensure that victims of domestic violence were provided legal protection and relief and the perpetrators of this offence were punished, Mazari had said.
At the time, PPP’s Yousuf Raza Gilani, the leader of opposition in the Senate, had argued that while the bill was an important legislation that had taken months to be cleared from the NA, it needed to be referred to the standing committee.