ISLAMABAD - Following the arrest of the alleged serial killer in the Kasur’s child abuse case, the Senate Wednesday failed to build a consensus for an amendment in the law allowing public hanging of those found guilty of kidnapping, raping or murdering children.

A majority of the lawmakers were in favour of the proposal for amending the law, as proposed by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior, seeking public hanging of children abductors and rapists. They said that it had become indispensable for public hanging of rapist and killer of Zainab, a seven-year-old girl and other children in Kasur. However, a number of senior lawmakers opposed the idea saying the move would not help decrease the crime as there was a need to curb its causes.

While the house looked divided on the issue, Senate Chairman Mian Raza Rabbani referred the proposed bill to the house committee on law where committees on interior and human rights will be invited to give their input. He questioned that it should be seen whether there was a need to amend the law in the presence of R1978 Rules made under the Prison Act which suggest that a warrant for public hanging could be issued. He said that law committee should examine whether there was a need to amend the law in the presence of Rule 354 (1).

Earlier, a debate triggered in the house on proposal of publicly hanging of rapists and murders of children under the age of 14 after PPP Senator Rehman Malik, who also the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee of the Interior, requested the chair that proposed bill suggesting public hanging as sent by the committee to the Senate Secretariat should be passed before the prorogation of the house till Friday. He said that the government should be asked to place the bill before the house in form of government bill. He said that otherwise the proposed bill, as private member’s bill, could only be passed in the next session causing delay in the amendment of the law. Earlier on Wednesday, Senator Rehman Malik also wrote a letter to Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani citing similar reasons to get pass the proposed bill immediately.

The Criminal Law (Amendment) (offences related to kidnapping or abducting a child) Act,2018 as unanimously passed by the Senate Interior Committee on January 22 proposed amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and Code of Criminal Procedure Code 1898 seeks publicly hanging or those found guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering children under the age of 14

The bill proposes amendment into Section 364A of PPC.  The amendment says: “Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person under the age of fourteen years of age in order that such person may be murdered or subjected to grievous hurt, or slavery, or to the lust of any person or may be so disposed of as to be put in danger of being murdered or subjected to grievous hurt, or slavery, or to the lust of any person shall be punished with death by hanging publically or with [imprisonment for life] or with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to fourteen years and shall not be less than seven years.” The Section 364-A currently asks for death sentence for any person who kidnaps, abducts or murders any child under the age of fourteen.

Earlier, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Hasil Bizenjo of National Party taking part in the debate opposed the move tooth nail, followed by PPP Senators Farhatullah Babar and Taj Haiders who also rejected such amendment.

Bizenjo said that public lashing of military dictator Gen Ziaul Haq’s era must not be repeated, as already a law exists asking for hanging of the convict found guilty of such crimes. He added that making amendment out of emotion would not serve any purpose.

Senator Farhatullah Babar also disagreed with the proposal saying crime and deterrence had no relations. “You cannot eradicate crime through such law and mere amendment to the law when there already exists a law, it will be throwback to Zia era,” he added.

He proposed that the Jail Manuals should be changed only if public hanging of serial killer in Kasur case had become indispensable. He said that the amendment would brutalise the society — a view that was also endorsed by another senior PPP Senator Taj Haider. He said that crime of child abuse would only decrease by curbing its causes instead of publicly hangings.

MQM Senator Barrister Muahhamd Ali Saif said that if public hanging could have been a remedy, the executions by Taliban could have put the whole society on right track. He in between the lines endorsed the proposal of hanging of culprit in Kasur case and proposed the law should be amended, if necessary, in such a way that it should be left on the trial court, to decide the punishment.

The female legislators including PPP Senator Sehar Kamran, ANP Senator Sitara Ayaz and MQM’s Khushbakht Shujaat also endorsed the proposal of public hanging for the killer of Zainab.

PTI Senator Azam Khan Swati said no punishment except public hanging for the killer was acceptable as the brutal rape and murder of an innocent girl was intolerable.

PML-N Senator Saud Aziz, JUI-F Senator Hafiz Hamdullah of JUI-F, PML-Q’s Kamil Ali Agha, MQM’s Shahi Syed as well as Tahir Mashhadi and ANP’s Ilyas Bilour also supported the proposed amendment.

Separately, State Minister Chaudhry Jaffer Iqbal winding up the debate on the reservations of lawmakers regarding the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Alliance assured the house that the alliance would not be used against any country. Earlier, the house had held a debate on the adjournment motion moved by PPP lawmaker Sherry Rehman which sought from the government about the commitments made to the Saudi-led alliance without taking the parliament into confidence.

Chairman Senate Mian Raza Rabbani taking the house into confidence about his meeting with Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar said that the latter had desired to fully operationalise Article 175 (A) of the Constitution regarding the Parliamentary Committee on Appointment of Judges of Superior Judiciary. “I conveyed to CJ that the committee had become redundant,” he said. He said that the CJ stressed that there was flaws and shortcomings in the judicial system vis-a-vis speedy trial. He said that the discussion was held on the recommendations of the Committee of the Whole House regarding judicial reforms sent to the superior judiciary and on the way forward on the judicial reforms.