Stories about law

What independence are we celebrating?

Some 71 years ago, people from all over subcontinent left their homes and took roads laced with perils to reach the ‘land of pure’. What made them leave their lives behind to move to an unknown land where all that awaited them was a promise? No tangible shelter but only a promise; the promise of freedom. What is meant by this ‘freedom’ that caused the greatest migration of the century? Freedom or independence means the availability of the opportunity to exercise one’s rights, powers, desires and even faith. Yes, I put emphasis on faith because any country where any ...

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India’s awakening: The end of Article 377 and the last shred of colonialism

One of the most glaring anomalies in the Indian legal landscape is Article 377, the 1861 law that criminalises gay sex. This law, inspired by Victorian era prudishness, should have no place in the India of 2018. The British, who created this law based on their values of that time, have now adopted much more liberal and progressive outlooks. Meanwhile, the Indian state has refused to move on. In fact, it has appropriated those archaic values and keeps them entrenched and alive in the country’s legal code. This is ironic, and perhaps tragic, because through the course of history, the Indic ...

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An open letter to CJP Saqib Nisar: If a prime minister can be put behind bars, why not Rao Anwar?

Respected Mr Saqib Nisar, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Supreme Court, During the last few years, the Supreme Court has sprouted as the only ray of hope for the people of Pakistan. The dismal state of daily affairs has been going unnoticed for decades but the current Supreme Court’s swift responses have truly won people over and given all of us hope. Suo moto action taken in cases that were not heading anywhere or taken when something truly important happened is an indication of our justice system improving. There are a number of instances that are truly worth mentioning and deserve massive ...

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If Pakistan follows Saudi Arabia’s footsteps, why not take a leaf from its sexual harassment law also?

One would think that the loose cannon that is the rising monarch of Saudi Arabia, long since the world’s Muslim hegemony, would not have thought all its radical initiatives through. And with good reason too. But recent endeavours are making us think otherwise. From where we stood, the lifting of the decades-long driving ban for women, only weeks from being set into motion, was nothing if not far flung. But it’s now being tailed by an impressive pre-emptive measure. Put short, Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) Vision 2030 might just be a concrete plan, and not just a ludicrous ...

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In a country of abysmal women rights, will the Transgender Protection Act prove to be fruitful?

Last week, the National Assembly (NA) enacted a law to protect the rights of the transgender community. Called the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, its main provisions validate transgender identity and expression and seek to provide transgender men and women the rights they had under the country’s Constitution but never enjoyed. The act spells these rights out explicitly so there remains no doubt of their full citizenship. The definition of “transgender persons” is thoughtfully crafted to include intersex, eunuch or a “transgender man or woman, khawaja sira or any person whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from ...

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Public execution only kills the rapist, not the problem

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior has proposed an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to publicly hang convicts found guilty of kidnapping, murdering or raping children less than 14 years of age. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018, if passed, would amend the PPC’s Section 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of 14), which currently states, “Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person under the [age of 14] in order that such person may be murdered or subjected to grievous hurt… or to the lust of any person [sic] shall be punished with death.” If amended, the words “by hanging publicly” ...

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Is suo motu action the only way to get justice in a country like Pakistan?

The concept of justice is the bedrock of Islam and the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. In this regard, the recent suo motu actions taken by the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Mian Saqib Nisar, should be greatly applauded for the simple reason that he stood up for justice. The power to take suo motu action stems from Article 184(3) of the Constitution regarding original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court which states as follows: “Without prejudice to the provisions of Article 199, the Supreme Court shall, if it considers that a question of public importance with reference to the enforcement of any of the Fundamental Rights ...

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Can Shahid Khaqan Abbasi #BringZulfiqarHome so he can spend his remaining few days with his family?

“We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.” – Robert Houghwout Jackson Conflicting interests and balancing human rights with state laws lie at the heart of the sentencing process. Judges may arrive at decisions based on either restrictive or broader interpretation of laws. Hence, the plight of terminally ill prisoners can only be resolved by having concrete laws and policies formulated to create exceptions to cases like that of the Pakistani death row prisoner in Indonesia, Zulfiqar Ali who is suffering from chronic liver and Diabetes Mellitus. Ali was taken into custody in 2004 on drug-related charges. ...

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Law schools in Pakistan may be operational but they are not good enough to produce good lawyers

It would be no exaggeration to state that the legal profession is one of the oldest and most prestigious professions around the world. Most of the world leaders who have dominated the political scene belong to the legal profession, whether it is Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatama Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, or others. From this, we can understand that it is no coincidence that most of the world leaders acquired a legal education without knowing its significance. The importance of a legal education can also be gauged from the fact that it acts as a supply as well as fuel to the legal profession and the state ...

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If you want to survive in Pakistan, don’t stop at the red light!

A few years back, I stopped at a red light and my car was hit in the rear by a taxi driver. A crowd soon gathered and a traffic policeman came over and blamed me for the accident. “You’re not supposed to stop at traffic signals, even if the light is red,” he said. “You should slow down, look left and right and go across without getting hit, or hitting another car.” “But what about the traffic rules?” I protested. He laughed contemptuously. “Rules are made to be broken. If everyone followed the rules, the country would collapse.” By this time, the crowd was baying for ...

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