Accountability, fair trial bills land in NA
09 October, 2012
ISLAMABAD: The government on Monday introduced two important bills in the National Assembly regarding accountability and fair trial and to regulate the powers of law enforcement and intelligence agencies.
Both the bills were moved by Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Farooq H Naek, and were sent to the Standing Committee on Law and Justice for deliberations. The opposition members expressed reservations on bringing a new accountability bill instead of presenting the earlier bill that was pending with the committee. Zahid Hamid and Anousha Rehman from opposition party PML-N criticised the government for presenting the report of the standing committee to the House on the previous bill.
The law minister said that the previous bill had been withdrawn under the rules and with the permission of the Speaker. If the opposition has any reservations about the present bill, it should deliberate on the bill at the committee meeting, he added. He said the House waited for that bill for more than two years while the "draconian" accountability law of Musharraf era had been in vogue, which was opposed by both the government and the opposition.
"We want a transparent bill that is not used for persecution and victimisation of anyone. Both the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) suffered due to the accountability law of Musharraf regime," he said. Naek said that all the proceedings and actions regarding withdrawal of the previous bill and introduction of the new one were according to rules.
PPP chief whip and Minister for Religious Affairs Syed Khursheed Shah said the government desired to bring a good law for accountability and get it passed unanimously. "We always took opposition into confidence. We do not want to bulldoze the proceedings. We need better suggestions to make it a consensus bill." On the inquiry by Anousha Rehman as to why the presentation of the report was delayed, Khursheed Shah said the government did not want a controversy on the bill.
ANP's Pervez Khan raised the issue of not giving prior notice and non-provision of a copy of the bill. In response, Minister for Defence Syed Naveed Qamar said that all had been done through parliamentary procedure and according to rules. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira, meaniwhile, said that the government had made its position amply clear on the bill and requested the Chair to send it to the relevant committee.
Finally, Deputy Speaker Faisal Karim Kundi referred both the bills to the standing committee. The Investigation for Fair Trial Bill is aimed at preventing the arbitrary use and abuse of interception powers, particularly by the intelligence agencies, and force them to abide by the law. The House also passed Intellectual Property Organisation of Pakistan Bill 2012, in which the IP Tribunal and IP Advocacy have been introduced to ensure effective protection, management, enforcement and adjudication of intellectual property rights in the country.