Chief Editor: Ansar Mahmood Bhatti

Senate rejects Anti-Terrorism Act amendment giving investigators spying powers

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The Senate, where the opposition enjoys a majority, rejected on Wednesday the Anti-Terrorism (Third Amendment) Bill, 2020 a day after it was passed in the National Assembly.

Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi, who was elected as an independent candidate and then appointed PTI’s chief whip in the Senate in 2019, tabled the bill. The opposition members said that the bill should be voted on. There are 104 members in the Senate, of which 30 voted in its favour, while 34 opposed it.

The bill seeks the insertion of Section 19-C (application of investigation techniques) in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The bill says that “the investigating officer with the permission of the court, within 60 days [will be allowed to] use techniques including undercover operation, intercepting communications, accessing computer systems and controlled delivery for investigation of financing terrorism under the law in force.”

The law gives the federal government the power to “make rules to regulate the procedure and execution of orders.”

Terror financing is one of the major obstacles, which is not only playing a degrading role against the development of a country but also imbuing such elements with the financial means which are an ultimate threat against the internal and external peace of the country and its allies, reads the statement of the objective of the bill.

The amendment seeks to “enable law enforcement authorities to take certain encountering techniques with authoritative support of the courts of law to curb with these menaces.”

After the voting, the Senate session was adjourned till 10:30am on Friday.

For any bill to become a law in Pakistan, it is compulsory (with a few exceptions) for it to be first passed in the National Assembly and then the Senate. The bill is then sent to the president to sign after which it becomes a law.

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