Senate panel to take up seven bills tomorrow

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice is set to take up a number of key legislations on Friday.

The meeting of the committee headed by Javed Abbasi of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz will discuss two constitution amendment bills moved by the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) and five bills already introduced by the government through presidential ordinances.

The JI’s two bills have sought an end to the presidential power to pardon sentences in Hudood and Qisas cases and a ban on purchase of properties in Pakistan by foreigners.

The bill seeking an amendment to Article 45 of the Constitution titled “President’s power to grant pardon” had been moved by JI chief Sirajul Haq on Jan 20 and Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani had referred it to the committee despite its initial opposition by the government.

Article 45 says: “The President shall have power to grant pardon, reprieve and respite, and to remit, suspend or commute any sentence passed by any court, tribunal or other authority.”

Through his bill, Mr Haq had suggested inserting the words “Provided that the President would not exercise this power in cases of punishments awarded under Hudood and Qisas”.

Speaking in support of his bill, Mr Haq, while quoting Article 227, had argued that the Constitution provided that all laws of the country “shall be brought in conformity with the injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah” and “no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such injunctions”.

The JI chief said he believed that the president must have the powers to pardon sentences, but there were a few punishments which had been announced by Allah and his Prophet (peace be upon him) like in Hudood and Qisas cases.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Azam Swati was of the view that curbing this power of the president would be against the criminal justice system and the Islamic injunctions.

The second constitution amendment bill seeking a ban on the purchase of properties by the foreigners had been moved by another JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed in September last year.

Through the bill, he has sought an amendment to Article 253 which provides powers to parliament to “prescribe the maximum limits as to property or any class thereof which may be owned, held, possessed or controlled by any person; and declare that any trade, business, industry or service specified in such law shall be carried on or owned, to the exclusion, complete or partial, of other persons, by the Federal Government or a Provincial Government, or by a corporation controlled by any such Government”.

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