New law to deny looters better class in jails

Published: September 15, 2019
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Federal Law and Justice Minister Farogh Naseem. Photo: AFP

Federal Law and Justice Minister Farogh Naseem. Photo: AFP

ISLAMABAD: The federal government is in the process of introducing a new law under which those involved in the embezzlement of Rs500 million or more in the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases will be given ‘C-class’ in jail, Federal Minister for Law and Justice Farogh Naseem said on Saturday.

Speaking at a press conference along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Punjab Law Minister Raja Basharat and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Law Minister Sultan Muhammad Khan, he said a number of new laws were being introduced in the country to provide inexpensive and swift justice to the people and protect the vulnerable segments of the society.

“Reforms in NAB laws are being introduced in which better class in jails will not be provided to the ones accused of over Rs500 million embezzlement,” he said.

He added that another law was being introduced for the protection of whistleblowers and a whistleblower protection and vigilance commission was also being established.

Sindh up in arms over Centre’s plan to invoke Article 149 in Karachi

The minister said that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government was fulfilling its promise of providing speedy and cheap justice to the people.

He added that reforms in the existing laws would bring revolutionary changes in the process of providing speedy justice to the masses.

According to the law minister, Punjab and K-P were on the same page with the federal government about such reforms whereas Sindh and Balochistan would soon be taken on board.

He asked the media to play a positive role in creating awareness among the masses about these reforms.

Dilating on the government’s law reforms agenda, the minister highlighted several proposed legislations, to provide speedy justice to the masses and protect the vulnerable segments of the society.

These reforms include: the Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2019 that will reduce civil litigation period to a maximum of two years; reforms in NAB laws, which will bar better class in jails to those accused of over Rs500 million embezzlement; to securing women rights, ‘Women Ombudsman’ has been empowered which will exercise enforcement and policing powers to restore the possession of ownership to women; the letter of administration and succession certificates bill will authorise the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to issue succession certificate within 15 days; the Legal Aid and Justice Authority under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Rights will ensure justice to less-income community, especially women and juvenile; and a law is also being introduced to address the matters of the overseas Pakistanis regarding their immovable properties.

Never talked about making Karachi a province: Farogh Naseem

The minister said, “These laws have been framed following the inputs by the prime minister.”

He said he was confident that these laws would also be replicated in the provinces.

Article 149
Dr Naseem said that invocation of Article 149 of the Constitution should not be considered controversial in any way, stressing that it would strengthen the local government systems in the provinces.

“First, I would advise everyone to read Article 149(4). There is nothing controversial in it except the provision to empower a local government, and there is a mechanism to dovetail it with Article 140A,” the minister told reporters.

“And it won’t be for Karachi alone; if the recommendation made by the federation proves successful, it will light the way for other cities of Sindh, Punjab, K-P and Balochistan,” he said.

He stressed that the enforcement of Article 149 was not meant to create any division between Karachi and Sindh. “We ourselves have vowed not to let Karachi segregated from the rest of the province,” the minister said, while responding to a question.

No plan to invoke Article 149 in Karachi: Qureshi

On the occasion, Dr Firdous said the new laws would bring about real change in the country. “The government is making efforts to bring the country out of the obsolete system and all institutions are striving to give the prime minister’s roadmap a reality.”

Referring to the opposition’s role on the Kashmir issue, she stressed the need for the opposition parties to come on the same page with the government for the Kashmir cause because the issue was far beyond personal and political goals.

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