ISLAMABAD: The Joint Session of Parliament on Wednesday passed eight bills,including crucial Financial Action Task Force (FATF) related laws, which were either rejected by the Senate or pending there after passage from the National Assembly.
The bills were passed by the National Assembly but rejected in the Senate where numerical strength of the opposition members is higher than the treasury lawmakers.
The bills passed by the joint session included the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020; the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020; the Surveying and Mapping (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020, Pakistan Medical Commission Bill, 2019, The Medical Tribunal Bill, 2019 and ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill 2020.
Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs Zaheer ud-Din Babar Awan piloted six bills while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf member Faheem Khan and Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari moved the Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020 and the ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill 2020 in the House respectively.
The House passed the motion seeking leave to introduce the Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020 with a majority vote. A total of 200 lawmakers voted in favour of the motion and 190 opposed it.
The House also adopted amendments proposed in the bill by Parliamentary Secretary for Planning and Development Kanwal Shauzeb and rejected those suggested by Senator Muhammad Mushtaq.
The Islamabad Capital Territory Waqf Properties Bill, 2020 is aimed at proper management and administration of waqf properties.
Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice Maleeka Ali Bokhari, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Farooq H Naek proposed amendments in various clauses of the Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020.
The House also adopted the amendments proposed by Maleeka Ali Bokhari but rejected the one by Shahiq Khaqan Abbasi and Farooq H Naek.
The Anti-Money Laundering (Second Amendment) Bill, 2020 suggests higher sentence and fines for offenders of money laundering and terrorism financing.
The bill proposes that anyone committing the act of money laundering shall be punishable with rigorous imprisonment of upto 10 years and fine of upto 25 million rupees and shall also be liable to forfeiture of property. It also states that investigating officer with the permission of the court may use techniques, including undercover operations, intercepting communication and assessing computer system for investigation of money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Survey and Mapping (Amendment) Bill, 2020 aims at transforming Survey of Pakistan as National Mapping Agency, ensuring efficient technical functioning of the departments and stop prohibiting printing, displaying, dissemination or using incorrect and unofficial map of Pakistan.
The statement of Objects and Reasons of the bills says: Survey of Pakistan (SOP), a National Mapping Organization, is responsible to meet the surveying and mapping requirements of Armed Forces as well as other civil organizations / departments.
In line with the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s Judgment reported as PLD 2016 SC 808 the Cabinet in its meeting held on 8th November 2017 has decided that all ministries and divisions should in consultation with Law and Justice Division, make amendments in the respective acts/ rules and replace the words “federal government” with appropriate authority (ies)”.
The Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020 seeks to insert section 19C after section 19B in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The new section 19C is about application of investigation techniques and states: “The investigation officer, may with the permission of court, within sixty days of such permission, use techniques, including undercover operation, intercepting communications, accessing computer system and controlled delivery for investigation of financing of terrorism under the law in force.
The aforementioned period of sixty days may be extended upto further period of sixty days by the court on a request made to it in writing. The court may grant extension, if it is satisfied, on the basis of situation/reasons given in the written request.
The provision of this sub-section shall be addition to and not in derogation of any other law for the time being in force. The federal government may make rules to regulate the procedure and execution of orders for the purpose of this section.”
According to Statement of Objects and Reasons,”Terror financing is one of the major obstacles, which is not only playing a degrading role against the development of a country but also imbuing such elements with the financial means which are an ultimate threat against the internal and external peace of the country and the allies to the extent.
The genuine purpose behind the introduction of this bill is to enable the law enforcement authorities via aforementioned insertion to take certain encountering techniques with an authoritative support of the courts of law to curb with these menaces.”
The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill, 2019 aims at increasing number of judges in the court from seven to ten, including the Chief Justice.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill say, “The existing sanctioned strength of judges of Islamabad High Court (IHC) is six plus one Chief Justice.
As intimated by the IHC, the present strength of judges compared to number of pending cases is not sufficient, besides the institution of fresh cases which is increasing every year.
“It is, therefore, necessary to increase the strength of the judges of the IHC from seven to ten judges, including the Chief Justice to overcome the difficulties of litigant public for early disposal of long pending cases.”
The Pakistan Medical Commission Bill, 2019 aims at regulating and controlling the medical profession and to establish a uniform minimum standard of basic and higher medical education and training and recognition of qualifications in medicine and dentistry.
The House also passed the bill after adopting all amendments proposed by Amjad Ali Khan in its various clauses.
The Medical Tribunal Bill, 2019 aims at deciding disputes arising out of matters pertaining to the medical and health sectors.
The House also passed the ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill 2020. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the bill states: “The Constitution guarantees the fundamental rights of all citizens, including persons with disabilities without discrimination.
As state party to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Pakistan is obliged to ensure and promote the full realization of rights and freedoms for persons with disabilities by taking appropriate legislative, administrative and policy measures.”