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Bill for financial, legal help to women prisoners okayed

14 December, 2011

ISLAMABAD: The Upper House of parliament, on Tuesday, passed a pro-women legislation to provide legal and financial assistance to the women languishing in jails.

The Women in Distress and Detention Fund (Amendment) Bill 2011 to amend Women in Distress and Detention Fund Act 1996 was moved in the House by Leader of the House Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari. Senate had on Monday adopted acid-control bill to check the acid throwing incidents in the country. The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says that the Human Rights Wing of Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights was administering the fund under the Act of Parliament, however the funds were transferred to the Ministry of Human Rights after its establishment.

It said that the Ministry of Human Rights was not in a position to operate the fund without necessary amendments in Women Distress and Detention Fund Act 1996, adding that the functionalisation of this fund is beneficial for all classes of women throughout the country. The Senate also passed another bill – The Islamabad High Court (Amendment) Bill 2011 to increase pecuniary (monetary) jurisdiction of the original site of the Islamabad High Court from Rs10 million to Rs100 million. The bill was moved by Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Moula Baksh Chandio.

On a point of order, the debate on Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Lahore, and Drug Regulatory Authority triggered a severe criticism from PML-N's Senator Ishaq Dar, who said that double standards of the federal government has blocked the transfer of this hospital to Punjab government whereas the same hospital in Quetta was devolved to Balochistan government. Dar said that Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had constituted a committee that included Syed Naveed Qamar along with him (Dar) to resolve the issue. The committee had its last meeting in Ramazan but had not found a solution. "The committee had become virtually infractions," he added.

He assured the House that he would get a resolution from Punjab Assembly for drug regulatory authority within next 72 hours if the government devolved Sheikh Zayed Hospital to Punjab government. Dar urged the government to resolve the issue and warned that if it was not done, the Punjab government is going to file a case in court. He asked the prime minister to intervene, saying we do not want to go to court for solution of every dispute.

Senator Raza Rabbani said that Sheikh Zaid Hospital Lahore is a dispute and said that under the 18th Amendment, the federal hospitals stand devolved to the provinces. Senator from Balochistan Kalsoom Parveen also endorsed Dar's stance over the Sheikh Zayed Hospital. Senator Haseeb Khan pointed out that the 18th Amendment was not being implemented with particular reference to delay in evolving drug regulatory authority. Bokhari apprised the House that it was all because of Punjab government.

Earlier, Functional Committee on Problems of Less Developed Areas Functional Chairman Senator Dr Abdul Malik presented a report of the committee for the period from November, 2009 to July, 2011.


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