ISLAMABAD: A day after describing the criminal justice system as being on the verge of collapse due to failure of all three pillars of state – judiciary, legislature and executive, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has sent to stakeholders a draft policy for “fixation of criminal appeals against conviction”.
The 2-page draft policy comprises eleven proposals for disposal of appeals against the lower judiciary’s orders in 90 days. The IHC has sought feedback from the stakeholders, including lower courts judges and bar association presidents, in the shape of objections or suggestions.
The court has requested them to send their feedback by May 25 and has expressed resolve to implement the policy from June 1, 2010.
The draft said criminal appeals against conviction shall be taken up in the week following the date on which they have been received – through superintendent of the prison where a convict is incarcerated or through the counsel engaged by them.
“After the court entertains an appeal on judicial side, the [IHC] office shall issue notices and have them served, inter alia, through the in-charge police station from where the case had originated. It shall be ensured that the service is completed within 10 days from the date of entertaining the appeal.
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It said the IHC office shall requisition the record and prepare paper books within 15 days from the date of entertaining the appeal. The IHC office shall inform the parties while serving notices to intimate the name of the counsel who would be pleading on behalf of the accused.
“In case a party fails to give intimation within 10 days from service of the notice and no power of attorney has been received within the stipulate period then the office shall fix the appeal on the judicial side on 15th day from the date on which it was entertained.”
After service of notices, intimation of counsel and submission of power of attorney by the latter, 15-day time shall be given to the counsel or the parties to submit written submissions and they shall be informed in this regard, inter alia, through SMS, email etc.
The IHC after receiving the written submissions shall provide the copies thereof to all the parties or their counsels. The counsels shall be allowed to send their written submissions through email.
It said the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) advocate general, the Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) or the law officers of the relevant organisations or agencies shall be responsible to nominate their respective representatives to receive and submit documents.
“It shall be the duty of the IHC registrar office to complete all the formalities within 30 days from the date when the appeal against conviction has been entertained.
“The appeal shall be fixed in the week following completion of the formalities after seeking consent of the counsels. The hearing shall not be adjourned due to absence of a counsel and the appeal shall be decided on the basis of written arguments submissions,” it adds.
The draft said the IHC will try to decide and dispose of every criminal appeal against conviction within 90 days from the date it is entertained on the judicial side.
“The sessions judges shall ensure that trial in all criminal cases are concluded expeditiously, preferably within 90 days from the date of submission of report under Section 173,” it added.
On Monday, the IHC Chief Justice observed that the existing criminal justice system has failed “to prevent and prosecute crime” and the system is “perpetuating miscarriages of justice” as he acquitted accused in seven different murder cases. In most cases the accused stayed in jails for about 10 years.
“Before parting, we feel morally and professionally obliged to record our observations regarding the alarming and abysmal state of the criminal justice system in the ICT. The case in hand is only the tip of the iceberg because in most of the cases serious crimes go unpunished,” he had noted.
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