SC: Granting women bail ‘rule, not exception’
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday held that accused women should be granted bail as a rule irrespective of the offence and that refusing bail should be the exception.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, writing in the recent appeal judgment on the denial of post-arrest bail in the Tahira Batool case, noted that “In cases of women, as mentioned in the first proviso to Section 497(1), irrespective of the category of the offence, bail is to be granted as a rule and refused as an exception in the same manner as it is granted or refused in offences that do not fall within the prohibitory clause of Section 497(1) CrPC.”
According to Section 497 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in the case of a non-bailable offence a person arrested without a warrant, or who appears before the court, may be released on bail. But he should not be released if there are reasonable grounds for believing he is guilty of an offence punishable with death, life imprisonment or imprisonment for 10 years; subject to court discretion for persons under the age of 16 or any women or any sick or infirm person.
The Supreme Court’s opinion was given on an appeal in the Tahira Batool case against the June 6, 2022, denial of post-arrest bail to her by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).
The case concerned the plea of a maid arrested in a house robbery. The woman, Sidra, worked in the house that was robbed by five people and was implicated by the complainant later as the robbers’ partner.
The apex court observed that being a woman the petitioner’s request for post-arrest bail should have been examined under the first proviso to Section 492(1) CrPC if she was not found entitled to bail under Section 497(2) of CrPC. The Court reiterated the presumption of innocence and held that bail cannot be withheld as punishment without conviction, noting that the woman working as the complainant’s maid did not appear to be a professional robber or dacoit.
Accordingly, the petition was converted into an appeal and the ICH order was set aside.
Sexual assault on special girls in different cities
Two separate instances of sexual assault of mentally-ill girls in Lahore and Shangla this week have alarmed authorities. Both instances occurred after the two teenage girls were lured by assailants to deserted places.
In Lahore, a security guard was arrested by the Nawab Town police for raping a mentally-ill teenage girl on Monday. The suspect, identified as Moen, worked as a guard at a house and lured the victim to a deserted place before raping her. The victim’s family filed a complaint with the police.
In a similar incident in Shangla, the police arrested a shopkeeper, Umar Zaman, for sexually assaulting a teenage girl in the Dehrai area of Alpuri tehsil on Monday
SHO Fazal Elahi stated that the victim’s father came to the police station with his mentally challenged daughter, aged 14, who had been assaulted by a shopkeeper at an empty house in the Dholu area after being tricked into going with him. The police registered a case under Section 376 of PPC and arrested the suspect.
Senate defers debate on disappearance bill
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior, deferred consideration of a bill against enforced disappearances due to objections over one of its clauses which can lead to imprisonment for false reports.
The committee met with Senator Mohsin Aziz to deliberate the bill titled “Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2022”.
State Minister for Law and Justice Senator Shahadat Awan told the committee that according to one of the clauses of the bill, a complainant could be imprisoned for up to five years if their petition against enforced disappearance turned out to be false. The Minister expressed concern that the clause would prevent reporting of such cases and noted that the bill’s revision was vital. The committee advised the interior ministry to remove the ambiguity and deferred it till the next meeting.
The committee also reviewed the bill introduced by Senator Aziz titled “Anti Rape (Amendment) Bill, 2022” which aimed at tracking and tracing offenders to prevent them from re-offending in the future.
Mr Awan, however, asserted that the bill went against Article 15 of the Constitution, which grants freedom of movement to citizens. Consequently, the committee deferred consideration for this bill as well.