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Cabinet passes bill on violence against women

LAHORE: The Punjab Cabinet on Wednesday gave its nod to the bill for protecting women victims of violence, e-stamp paper plan besides deciding to introduce laws for banning even one dish at marriage ceremonies and setting up vigilance committees to monitor implementation of the steps proposed under the National Action Plan (NAP).

Under the Punjab Protection of Women Victims against Violence Bill 2015, special centres will be set up for the victims where they will not only be provided residence but all the facilities, from investigation to forensic test to prosecution of those accused of the violence, under one roof.

An official told media that the first such centre would be set up in Multan and that all staff of these centres, including investigators and prosecutors, would be women to make the victims lodged there at ease, saving them from likely harassment at the hands of male staff.

The cabinet meeting, chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, also discussed a draft law proposing the ban on even one dish at weddings, reviewing the Marriage Functions Act 1998.

The CM sought that instead of meals serving of soup in winter and cold drinks in summer be considered in the revised version of the law in which farmhouses being offered for marriage ceremonies would also be included. He asserted the proposal to ban even the single dish in marriage functions would be an important step towards providing genuine relief to the common man.

The meeting also discussed the Punjab Vigilance Committee Bill 2015, aimed at ensuring community participation in the efforts to cope with terrorism.

The committees to be formed at three tiers under the proposed law would monitor implementation of the steps suggested in NAP and report the violation(s) to law enforcement agencies. At the district level, these bodies will work under the district coordination officers and under assistant commissioners at sub-division level while head at the union council level has not been decided yet.

Pending approval of the bill, the CM directed that the local government and other departments concerned must be consulted to harmonise it with the local governments to be formed after Sept 20 elections.

The cabinet also okayed introduction of e-stamp papers throughout the province under a phased programme under which designated bank branches would issue the stamp papers carrying bar codes to prevent forged papers.

To be introduced on July 1, the facility would be available in all 36 districts of the province by the end of the calendar year, a participant in the meeting told media.

The chief minister hoped the step would not only collect more revenue but also end irregularities and fraud in the stamp papers business and thus curb illegal occupation of land through bogus stamp papers.

The cabinet was briefed on the wheat procurement campaign in which 2.95 million metric tonne wheat has been procured from cultivators who have also been electronically registered with the help of Gurdawers.

The registration data will be used for provision of gunny bags, procurement drive and payments to the cultivators in the next wheat season.

The cabinet was told about the law and order situation in the province, particularly security of the Zimbabwean cricket team.


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