The Supreme Court in Pakistan on Friday restrained the governor of North West Frontier Province from signing into a law a controversial bill aimed at establishing a Taliban-style moral policing system.
The NWFP Assembly had passed the "Hisba (Accountability) Bill" last month to set up a department under a cleric to enforce Islamic morality in the province.
Following a petition from President Pervez Musharraf, the apex court, which had already struck down the bill in the past terming it as unconstitutional, issued a stay order on the renewed Bill until the commencement of regular hearing in the third week of January.
The bill gives the new department the power to use the police and media for the promotion of Islamic values and has been denounced by moderates and minorities for its "draconian" provisions.
President Pervez Musharraf has also condemned the new law as unconstitutional and a breach of people's fundamental rights.
Under the rules the provincial Governor has to sign the bill into law but a larger bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, asked the governor not to sign it.
In August last year, the Supreme Court had said that various clauses of a bill are unconstitutional and had ordered the provincial governor not to sign it into law.
The NWFP is governed by Islamist alliance Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) which passed the bill again last month and sent it to the governor for his assent.
MMA had also opposed a recent law enacted by the government to change the rape and adultery sections of Hudood Ordinance brought in by the late military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.
The ordinance put the onus of proving rape on the victim and warranted four Muslim witnesses to establish the case. The new law called Women Protection Bill has amended it.