Has the missing persons bill “gone missing”?

Under the proposed bill, a person involved in the offense of enforced disappearance could be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10 years.

On Monday, the Human Rights Minister, Dr. Shireen Mazari, revealed that a bill about enforced disappearances, which the National Assembly recently passed, had gone “missing.”

While speaking to media persons at the Ministry of Human Rights, the Minister said, “We had prepared the bill regarding missing persons. It was passed by the relevant committee and the National Assembly. Regardless, the bill went missing after it was sent to the Senate.”

However, the Minister said there were reports that the bill was now at the Senate Secretariat.

missing

The bill, Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2021, was passed by the NA on the 8th of November 2021. Under the proposed bill, a person involved in the offense of enforced disappearance could be sentenced to a maximum sentence of 10 years.

A local news outlet tried to resolve the mystery of the missing bill. It contacted three standing committee members about the statement on the missing bill reportedly made by Mazari in the meeting. However, they all expressed their ignorance, saying they were not present for the entire duration.

The Standing Committee Human Rights Chairman, Senator Walid Iqbal, said he had to leave early for a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan. Senator Gurdeep Singh stated he came late for the meeting, while Senator Professor Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani said she left early to look after her husband, who was admitted to a hospital.

“The Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2021 reached the Senate Secretariat on the 10th of November,” an official of the Secretariat told the news outlet on the condition of anonymity. The official said, “The bill cannot be presented to the Senate until a government minister first sends a notification, and thus, the government puts it on the orders of the day for the house proceedings.”

The next step is to list the proposed bill as passed by the NA on the day’s orders.

After the bill is on the house plan, a treasury member or Minister-in-charge requests approval from the Senate chair to table the bill. After that, it is sent to the relevant house standing committee for vetting.

Once the standing committee submits its report on the bill, a government minister or treasury member can move a motion to pass it as approved by the standing committee. If the Senate enacts a bill with revisions to that passed by the NA, the bill as passed by the Senate is again sent to the lower house for passage.

The Minister’s statement on the missing bill reflects that the federal government was disinterested in expediting the passage of the NA bill through the upper house.

The source also checked orders between the 8th of November 2021 and the 4th of January 2022. However, it had not found any listing of the bill passed by the National Assembly.

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