President signs senior citizen, women’s property rights bills

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi Tuesday signed into law Islamabad Senior Citizens Bill, 2021 and Enforcement of Feminist Property (Amendment) Bill, 2021, paving the way for the empowerment of inheritance to women besides setting up a Senior Citizens Council while steps will be taken for the welfare of senior citizens of Islamabad.

The establishment of an old age home “Darul Shafqat” for the elderly will also be implemented while people over the age of 60 will be eligible for the Senior Citizen Card.

Senior citizens will have access to facilities such as museums, parks and libraries free of charge. Treatment facilities, discounts on medicines, separate counters and separate wards will be provided.

Elderly people will be given a 20 percent discount on air and rail travel while financial assistance will also be provided to deserving and eligible senior citizens. The President also signed the Enforcement of Women’s Rights (Amendment) Bill 2021. Under the law, Section 5 of the Enforcement of Property Rights Act 2020 has been amended.

Under the amendment, the ombudsman’s decision can be appealed to the President within 30 days.

Alvi upholds Banking Mohtasib’s order to refund the lost amount to the victim of the unauthorized electronic funds transfer case.

Meanwhile, President Dr Arif Alvi rejected the representation of a bank against the order of Banking Mohtasib to refund the monetary loss of the account holder that occurred due to Electronic Funds Transfer without his knowledge.

The President in his verdict wrote that it was the responsibility of banks to provide knowledge to its account holders about the use of technology to avoid such incidents.

“Our simple people need protection through knowledge of technology. The bank must ensure the same,” he stated in response to the representation filed by Habib Bank assailing the order of Banking Mohtasib, which had ordered it to refund the lost amount.

The complainant Ali Ghulam, a retired person who was maintaining his account with the HBL at Islamabad found through his bank statement that an amount of Rs 607,804 was missing from his account through ‘Non 3D Secure Transactions’.

He made a complaint to the bank stating that no request was made on his part for activation of the Internet Banking facility and his personal credentials were used in the disputed transactions.

On finding no relief to his grievance, the complainant approached the Banking Mohtasib which thrashed the matter on the grounds that the bank did not produce any evidence that it had apprised the account holder of the pros and cons of electronic fund transfer and other related usages of technology at the time of establishing a banking relationship.

The bank was also found non-compliant to the instruction of State Bank of Pakistan Circular dated June 10, 2016, which mandates the bank that “Card Service Provider shall take Consumer’s consent regarding utilization of payment cards on various ADC’s or their cross border usage while maintaining the record of consent as per SBP record /retention policy.”

The president in his order said resultantly, the loss of money to the complainant had occurred due to the reason that the bank’s facility of EFT was made operational without his request and consent.

“Had this channel not been opened by the Bank, the account holder would have avoided this financial loss,” he said.

He said the cumulative reading and perusal of these provisions of law undoubtedly leads to the conclusion that the Banking Mohtasib is to inquire into complaints about banking malpractices, maladministration, wrongdoings, the fraudulent transactions, the corrupt and malafide practices by the Bank officials and pass appropriate orders on conclusion of the inquiry.

The president mentioned that the bank was given ample opportunity to controvert the claim of the complainant and the findings of the learned Banking Mohtasib. However, he said, “the bank failed to discharge the burden and statutory liability cast upon it under the law”.

“The representation of the bank is devoid of any merit and deserves to be rejected,” he concluded the order.

Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]
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