The National Assembly on Friday passed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2022 after removing a section that had sought punishment for anyone whose complaints could not be verified and were considered fake.
Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar, who presented the bill, agreed to withdraw the controversial Section 514 from the legislation—while noting that it would only come into effect after a proper trial—following several lawmakers protesting its inclusion and refusing to vote for the bill. Lawmakers argued that the section was aimed at preventing citizens from filing complaints, as they would fear retaliation. After this, Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar moved an amendment to omit the offending section from the bill, which aims to criminalize enforced disappearances through amendments to Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898.
The bill was subsequently unanimously passed—though the number of lawmakers present was significantly less than the one-fourth required for quorum.
According to the omitted section, anyone who files a complaint about missing persons that is found to be false would be guilty of an offense punishable with five years’ year imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 100,000. It had been drafted by the ousted Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government under former interior minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and was passed last November, but had since been pending with the Senate.
Earlier this month, the Senate passed it with some amendments, prompting the government to bring it back to the Lower House for another approval. The bill would now be, once again, sent back to the Senate for approval prior to becoming an act of Parliament.
Also on Friday, the National Assembly passed the Inter-Governmental Commercial Transactions Bill, 2022, to boost foreign states seeking economic and business relations with Pakistan.