SC seeks Sindh’s reply on magistracy case

Punjab AG says revival of executive magistracy system will create administrative issues


Aqeel Afzal June 30, 2021
Supreme Court. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD:

The Supreme Court has sought the Sindh government’s reply to a petition seeking revival of the executive magistracy system, abolished by the Pervez Musharraf regime in 2001.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Justice Umar Ata Bandial, on Tuesday resumed hearing of the petition and expressed its displeasure when it was told that Sindh had not yet submitted its report.

Justice Bandial noted that the Punjab government had also not submitted its written reply.  Punjab Advocate General Faisal Chaudhry, who was present in the courtroom, told the bench that the provincial government did not submit a reply as it seconded the Attorney General of Pakistan’s (AGP) opinion.

“A revival of the executive magistracy system will create administrative problems at the local level,” he said. Later the bench adjourned hearing of the case for an indefinite period while asking Sindh to submit its report.

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The PTI government earlier said it planned to revive the executive magistracy system, as, according to it, the system provided an appropriate price control mechanism at the local government level.

Until 2001, deputy commissioners (DCs) acted as district magistrates, assistant commissioners as sub-divisional magistrates, and so on.  District magistrates could hear most criminal cases except those which could lead to capital punishment or life imprisonment.

This conflicted with the division of powers as the DCs were part of the executive but had significant judicial authority as well. There was little concern that most administrative officials have little to no legal background.

Supporters claim that after magisterial powers were taken away from DCs, there was no authority to check price hikes and profiteering or to penalize violators.

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