LAHORE. National Commission for Status of Women chairperson Justice Majida Rizvi (retired) has said that the Hudood Ordinance should be repealed because it is "un-Islamic on the one hand and makes a mockery of Islamic justice on the other".
Speaking at a seminar on Hudood Ordinance under the aegis of Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights at the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan here on Sunday evening, the NCSW chairperson said that the Hudood Ordinance should be repealed because it was "not based on Quranic injunctions".
She said that an NCSW committee, comprising eminent jurists, scholars and a former Council of Islamic Ideology chairman, had recommended repeal of the Hudood laws for being "against the injunctions of Islam and discriminatory against women and minorities".
She said that women had suffered untold hardships during the past 22 years on account of the Hudood Ordinance, which was "promulgated by the late Gen Ziaul Haq for political reasons". These laws had "promoted injustice instead of justice and denied women the rights given to them by the Holy Quran".
She said that Had sections were fewer than the number of penal sections in all Hudood laws. "The Holy Quran had only prohibited drinking by declaring wine 'Haram' but punishment had been prescribed for drinking in the Hudood Ordinance. Rape victims often became the accused due to a confusing procedure prescribed for evidence."
She said that women had been denied the right to record evidence in all the four Hudood laws, which she added, overlooked the fact that a woman could not substantiate her case or defend herself without producing witnesses. "Four male witnesses deposing to substantiate a rape charge under the Hudood Ordinance must be inhuman and shameless as they saw a woman being molested but did not try to save her."
She said Rijam meant stoning to death in the Holy Quran but the Hudood Ordinance said that the culprit would be stoned by a few people and then shot dead. "Like women, non-Muslims had also been denied the right of evidence in the Hudood Ordinance. The Law of Evidence required production of two women witnesses in place of one but Hudood laws excluded the evidence of women completely."
She said that the Hudood Ordinance did not explain who would record evidence in case of a crime committed in a women's hostel and watched by women alone. "Lawyers representing minorities were also debarred from defending them in the Federal Shariat Court."
She said that criminal cases were not decided on the basis of religion anywhere in the world, but the Hudood Ordinance had first been declared a part of the Muslim Personal Law and then made part of the criminal law. "The laws were applicable to non-Muslims but they were barred from appearing as witnesses and lawyers and becoming Federal Shariat Court judges which was the only competent court to hear appeals in such cases."
She said that the Qazi was required to penalize a complainant or witness for Qazaf on finding a case baseless but the Hudood Ordinance required of the defendant to file an application for such proceedings after being acquitted.
A large number of Hudood Cases had been found baseless by the court of law during the past 22 years but not even a single person had been penalized for Qazaf. The application for Qazaf proceedings could be filed only by men even if the wronged person was a woman.
She said that hands of thieves were required to be amputated under the Hudood laws but no punishment had been prescribed for those defaulting on bank loans worth millions of rupees. She said that the government had reconstituted the Federal Shariat Court after it gave a ruling against the Hudood Ordinance. The reconstituted court reversed the decision.
She said that the National Commission on Status of Women was conducting research on the Qisas and Diyat and blasphemy laws at present.
Pakistan Law and Justice Commission secretary Dr Faqir Hussain said that the Hudood Ordinance was the most abused law in the legal history of the country. "The law required to be repealed for failure to promote justice and promoting discrimination on the basis of religion."
He said that the punishment of lashes had been mentioned only in Sura Nisa and it was to be administered for humiliation and not physical harm.
"The punishment of Rijam or stoning to death was not mentioned in the Holy Quran, but in Ahadith compiled more than 100 years after (Hijra). The government reconstituted the Federal Shariat Court after declaring the punishment of stoning to death against Islamic injunctions by a majority decision while accepting an appeal and getting the decision reversed.
He said that 80 percent provisions of the Hudood Ordinance had been drawn from the Pakistan Penal Code, which was why alternative punishments had been prescribed for offences in violation of Islamic injunctions. "Hudood cases could not be registered under the law without production of four witnesses but the police often registered cases in which no witnesses were produced. Non-Muslims could neither get cases registered under the Hudood Ordinance nor appear as witnesses or lawyers despite the fact that a large number of cases had been registered against them under the Hudood Ordinance."
Aurat Foundation Peshawar resident-director Rakhshanda Naz said that women were the major victims of Hudood Laws. "Even their parents got Zina cases registered against them if they married someone without their consent. The courts expected their relatives to get them released on bail, overlooking the fact that they were the ones who filed the cases and made the allegation."
Joint Action Committee for Peoples Rights convener Shataj Qizalbash said that the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance also "required to be repealed as it was also being used to victimize women".