Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice in a meeting today debated whether existing Pakistani law permits public executions.
The meeting chaired by Senator Javed Abbasi was attended by Law Minister Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk, the law secretary, provincial home secretaries, representatives of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), and the inspectors general of the Punjab and Balochistan Prisons Departments.
Senator Abbasi questioned if the Parliament would need to introduce an amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code or whether the addition of a rule would suffice.
Senator Rehman Malik reminded the committee that the Supreme Court (SC) had forbidden carrying out public hangings. “We cannot violate the Supreme Court’s order by hanging [the convict] in public,” he said.
The Law Ministry told the standing committee that any moves that are not sanctioned by the Constitution must be avoided.
Law Minister Virk pointed out that a public hanging would be considered a violation of human rights.
“Emotions aside, steps that are in conflict with the Constitution should be avoided,” he asserted.
Provincial home secretaries were of the view that the law should remain as is and a public hanging should not be carried out. They were concerned that doing so would cause the law and order situation to spiral out of control.
The CII also opposed the suggestion to carry out the death sentence in public and said that the execution must be carried out inside a jail. The body suggested it was possible to broadcast the sentence on electronic media.
Senators from all provinces, however, opposed the CII’s suggestion that the execution be broadcast.
The inspector general of prisons Balochistan said that amending the law for the sake of one case would be counter-productive for society. “We cannot punish the entire society by hanging a person in public,” he insisted.
The standing committee ordered the Law Ministry to submit a report clarifying whether a public execution would violate the Constitution and the Supreme Court order, and whether an amendment to the existing law would be required in order to carry out public hangings.