Shariat Bill termed replica of old one. By Waseem Ahmad Shah.


PESHAWAR, May 29: The NWFP Shariat Bill, 2003, tabled by the provincial government in the NWFP Assembly is a reproduction of the Enforcement of Shariat Act, 1991, enacted by the then Nawaz Sharif's government, claimed legal circles.

The bill was introduced in the assembly with slight modification, keeping in view the powers of the NWFP government, as the Shariat Act of 1991 was meant for the entire country and the proposed bill, if passed by the assembly, would be applicable only to the province.

Instead of the words "Pakistan" and "federal government" used in the 1991 Act, the provincial government has used the words "NWFP" and "provincial government" in the proposed law. Moreover, unlike the 1991 Act which is in English, the Shariat Bill is drafted in Urdu.

"Even the preambles of the Shariat Act and the proposed law are almost identical," said a local lawyer.The Enforcement of the Shariat Act, 1991 (Act X of 1991), was passed by the parliament and it received the assent of the President of Pakistan on June 5, 1991. Under section 2 of that Act Shariat means the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah. The same section has been incorporated in the proposed NWFP Shariat Act.

The drafts of both these documents - the 1991 Shariat Act and the proposed NWFP Shariat Act, 2003 - are identical up to section 13, except some slight changes. In the proposed law there are 15 sections whereas in the 1991 Act there are 22 sections.

Interestingly, those sections of the 1991 Act have not been included in the proposed Bill which are not in accordance with the policy of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal's government.

Under the Shariat Act the state shall take administrative and legislative measures to protect the honour and reputation of the citizens against false imputations, character assassination and violation of privacy. Similarly, the rights of women as guaranteed by the constitution should not be affected. However, these provisions are not included in the proposed law by the provincial government.

Under both the documents the concerned governments have to establish an education commission and an economic reforms commission for putting forward recommendations regarding Islamisation of the educational and economic systems in the country and the province, respectively.

A deviation in the proposed act is a provision about the establishment of a Judicial Reforms Commission, which would give recommendations for bringing the judicial system in the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (Pata) in line with the Islamic injunctions.

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