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January 4, 2015

Govts ignored SC recommendations for speedy trials


January 4, 2015

ISLAMABAD: Though the country is heading towards military courts to punish terrorists, not even one of the nine recommendations of the Supreme Court given 16 years ago to enhance the efficiency of Anti-Terrorism Courts has ever been implemented.
Striking down the establishment of military courts by the PML-N government in 1999, the Supreme Court had said in its judgment that military courts had been established because of inefficacy and over-burdening of ATCs and therefore revolutionary steps needed to be taken to deal with terrorism cases and handed down nine recommendations.
The case was reported as PLD 1999 Supreme Court 504. Interestingly, since 1999 it was Pervez Musharraf who ruled the country for major part of the time while the PPP remained in power for five years and Mian Nawaz Sharif for a year and a half but none of the successive governments ever tried to implement the SC’s recommendations to make ATCs more efficient and result oriented, leaving room for the military courts.
The following guidelines were provided by the Supreme Court in exercise of its constitutional jurisdiction under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution to achieve the required objective,
(i) Cases relating to terrorism be entrusted to the Special Courts already established or which may be established under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 or under any law in terms of the judgment of Supreme Court in the case of Mehram Ali and others v. Federation of Pakistan (PLD 1998 SC 1445);
(ii) One case be assigned at a time to a Special Court and till judgment is announced in such case, no other case be entrusted to it;
(iii) The concerned Special Court should proceed with the case entrusted to it on day-to-day basis and pronounce judgment within a period of 7 days as already provided in Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 or as may be provided in any other law;
(iv) Challan of a case should be submitted to a Special Court after full preparation and after ensuring that all witnesses

will be produced as and when required by the concerned Special Court;
(v) An appeal arising out of an order/judgment of the Special Court shall be decided by the appellate forum within a period of 7 days from the filing of such appeal;
(vi) Any lapse on the part of the investigating and prosecuting agencies shall entail immediate disciplinary action according to the law applicable;
(vii) The Chief Justice of the High Court concerned shall nominate one or more Judges of the High Court for monitoring and ensuring that the cases/appeals are disposed of in terms of these guidelines;
(viii) That the Chief Justice of Pakistan may nominate one or more Judges of the Supreme Court to monitor the implementation of guidelines. The Judge or Judges so nominated will also ensure that if any petition for leave/or appeal with the leave is filed, the same is disposed of without any delay in the Supreme Court;
(ix) That besides invoking aid of the Armed Forces in terms of Sections 4 and 5 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, the assistance of the Armed Forces can be pressed into service by virtue of Article 245 of the Constitution at all stages including the security of the Presiding Officer, Advocates and witnesses appearing in the cases, minus the process of judicial adjudication as to the guilt and quantum of sentence, till the execution of the sentence.”

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