Pakistan: Hudood Ordinance amendments finalised

South Asia Citizen's Wire
The government has decided to retain all Islamic punishments in the Hudood Ordinance, including stoning to death (rajam), lashing and amputation for various offences, but has proposed procedural amendments regarding their applicability.
The Daily Times has learned that the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights has almost finalised the draft of a bill for amendments to the Hudood Ordinance of 1979, with the objective of removing all "legal and procedural lacunae" in it.
Sources in the ministry said that the bill was likely to be presented in the next session of the National Assembly. Sources privy to the process of drafting the amendments told Daily Times that hadd (Islamic punishment) would be applicable to all offences, including rape, adultery, theft, wrongful accusation and robbery. However, the procedure had been amended to alter the number of eyewitnesses required, the conditions of evidence and the procedure for executing sentences, they said.

The option of repentance is also being given legal validity, and a person who repents will not be liable to hadd. A new section will be inserted in the ordinance to give effect to this provision. A major amendment proposed suggests that the Prohibition (Enforcement of Hadd Ordinance) 1979, which deals with drinking liquor and other intoxicants, be excluded from hadd punishments and such cases be dealt with under the Control of Narcotics Substances Act 1997. With this amendment, cases regarding the use and sale of liquor would be registered under ordinary law instead of hadd.

Similarly, the bill proposes that laws concerning zina (adultery, rape) and qazf (wrongful accusation) be combined as one ordinance, as both offences are interlinked.

Section 17 of the Zina Ordinance regarding the mode of execution of the punishment of stoning to death will be amended. The condition of four eyewitnesses for the imposition of this hadd punishment will also be withdrawn. A new sub-section would be inserted in the ordinance, prescribing a mode for whipping and suggesting the material of which the whip should be made.

The bill proposes the deletion of Section 10 of the Zina Ordinance, so that a person accusing another of zina without proof would automatically be charged by the state for qazf (wrongful accusation).

Section 497 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) has already been amended to make all offences committed by women, except in special cases, bailable.

In theft cases under the Offence against Property (Enforcement of Hadd) Ordinance 1979, the value of the prescribed 'nisab' (worth of property) would be increased from 4.457 grams of gold. The hadd punishment of amputation of a hand will be applied if the stolen property is above the prescribed nisab. Similarly, theft cases below the nisab will be adjudicated at the judge's discretion.

Daily Times
July 24, 2006