Non-Muslims be exempted from Hudood laws: NCSW

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ISLAMABAD, Nov 16: The special committee of the National Commission on the of Women (NCSW) has recommended that non-Muslims shouldn't be dealt with under the Hudood laws.

The issue was raised in the committee meetings, which in its final recommendations has proposed the repeal of the Hudood laws. The committee underlined the need to ensure that the non- Muslims, who are not liable to Islamic laws, should be dealt with in accordance with their own personal laws; with an exception in cases where the offence is committed between a non-Muslim and a Muslim.

The Committee discussed section 1, sub-section (2), dealing with the jurisdiction of the Zina Ordinance, in the context of minorities. As the sub-section states that the Ordinance extends to the whole of Pakistan, it was queried whether it also included the minorities.

The Committee observed that generally criminal laws all over the world were applicable to all the citizens of a country without exception. In this case, the difficulty had arisen with respect to the inclusion of Hudood laws as part of the Criminal Law.

Another issue discussed in this regard was the religion of the presiding officer. It was discussed that the law provided that in case of the accused being a non-Muslim, the presiding officer may be a non-Muslim, but it was not clear what the case would be if the victim was a non-Muslim. The Committee observed that this was a loose end in the existing law that needed to be tied up by redrafting the provision concerned.

Mr Naeem Shakir clarified that since constitutional guarantees as provided in Article 227 (3) of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, and Section 2 of the Shariat Act clearly mentioned that the Shariat laws would not be applicable to the minorities, therefore, this Ordinance would not be applicable to the minorities. Therefore, under the same principle, there was a general consensus in the Committee that the proviso in Section 8 be replaced with wording that exempted non-Muslims from being tried under Hudood laws except in case where one of the two parties involved was a Muslim.

The Committee recommended that the proviso should be replaced with unequivocal wording specifying the exception of non-Muslims to the jurisdiction of this law. The existing provision states that in case of a non-Muslim accused, the witnesses may also non-Muslims as guaranteed under the Constitution and the Shariat Act.

The majority of the Committee members, however, observed that since non-Muslims should be dealt with under their own personal laws, as strongly recommended by the Committee, it was pertinent to amend and re-phrase this provision. However, some members proposed that the proviso should state that "Provided that a non- Muslim shall not be liable to punishment under Hadd and shall be tried under Tazeer".

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"Trial of Pakistani Christian Nation" By Nazir S Bhatti

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