Existing criminal justice system promotes graft: IHC

 Asks govt to submit reply in justice system case within a week

Saqib Bashir May 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has noted that justice has never been a priority in the country and the existing criminal justice system is essentially flawed and promotes corruption.

“Had justice been a priority in this country, our courts [Islamabad District and Session Courts] would not be set up in shops,” noted the IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah while hearing a case pertaining to loopholes in the criminal justice system.

Appearing before the court, Additional Inspector General Kamran Adil revealed that an Investigation officer (IO) in Islamabad police is only paid Rs350 as investigation allowance for each case. Justice Minallah noted that in that money the IO also has to take evidence to the forensic laboratory in Lahore.

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“By paying a meager sum of Rs350 to the IO of a case, the system itself sets him up for corruption. This is a big failure of justice. Our priorities are wrong,” he said.

The chief justice observed that Police Order 2002 has never been enforced and hence what is happening in Islamabad is illegal. He said only the VIPs use the police force for their own purposes.

“We as a society are responsible for what is happening. High-profile cases are highlighted in the media but real issues are neglected. Regretfully, we have not learnt anything from the coronavirus,” he added.

Justice Minallah noted that Islamabad does not have its own jail and there is no prosecution either. Referring to the temporary lock-up in the city, Bakshi Khanaa, the CJ asked if the additional attorney-general had ever visited the lock-up and if he would deem it fit for any human to be put there.

“The deputy commissioner is also responsible. He should have visited each police station and inspected them in line with the police rules,” he said.

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The court also appointed the court reporters’ body – the IHC Journalist Association – as court assistants in this case. The bench noted that the media is also an important stakeholder and directed the body to submit its written recommendation within a week.

Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokhar asked the court to grant the government two weeks to submit its response. The CJ asked the government lawyer if he had considered the number of cases, which would be awaiting justice for those two weeks.

The court directed the federal government to submit its response within a week, and adjourned the hearing till May 21. The secretary of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan and former inspector general police Dr Shoaib Suddle were present during the hearing.

The IHC chief justice on May 4 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.

A day later on May 5, the CJ sent to stakeholders a draft policy for “fixation of criminal appeals against conviction”. The 2-page draft policy comprised eleven proposals for disposal of appeals against the lower judiciary’s orders in 90 days.

The IHC had sought feedback from the stakeholders, including lower courts judges and bar association presidents, in the shape of objections or suggestions. The court requested them to send their feedback by May 25 and had expressed resolve to implement the policy from June 1, 2010.