On Sept 29, IPS organized a lecture by renowned scholar In his an hour-long lecture, Justice Usmani shed light on various dimensions of the issue of gender equality and legislation in this regard. He said Hudood laws were enacted after exhaustive debate, in consultation with the Muslim jurists from across the country and abroad. But there can still be room for improvement in the body of the laws along with the need of taking into account the problems of investigation and implementation.
Analyzing the criticism against Hudood laws, Justice Usmani said it is commonly held that women generally do not register cases of rape (zina biljabr) for the fear of being convicted for consented adultery or fornication. He insisted that no woman has ever been convicted for ‘zina bilraza’ (unlawful sex between consenting adults) during his 17-year tenure as judge. Rather, it has been a practice “not to convict a woman who complains about zina biljabr”, he told and added that it is generally men who end up being convicted for the crime.
Justice Usmani also highlighted weaknesses in the Hudood laws in the present form. He noted that since zina is liable to Hadd (punishment prescribed by Qur’an and Hadith), an accused should be set free if no convincing evidence is brought against him/her, instead of imposing tazir’ (punishment under the penal code). He drew attention towards ignoring the high standards set for ensuring witnesses’ credibility and integrity and the procedural flaws in testing the caliber and genuineness of witnesses under the current system.
Justice Taqi Usmani voiced his apprehension on lengthy jail-terms prescribed under the clauses 10(2) and 10(3) for which there are shorter jail-terms under the penal code. Islam’s system of justice emphasizes on the welfare and guidance of convicted individuals instead of keeping them imprisoned for a longer period of time, he said.
29 Spetember 2004