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September 3, 2018

Interim Regulation: Hundreds of revision petitions pending at Fata Tribunal


September 3, 2018

PESHAWAR: Hundreds of revision petitions including those of convicted prisoners under Frontier Crimes Regulation are pending before the Fata Tribunal for the last four months as the tribunal has become dysfunctional due to Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018.

Around 485 cases are pending with the tribunal. The cases are adjourned by the registrar of the tribunal due to the uncertainty regarding its fate.

The interim regulation made no mention of the Fata Tribunal. It also didn’t suggest which forum would exercise the revision powers. There is widespread confusion about the status of the Fata Tribunal.

Though the Fata Tribunal’s chairman Sang-e-Marjan Khan and members Hussainzada Khan and Mohammad Atif Nazir are still its members after the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor extended their service for a period of six months on May 22, they have stopped hearing the cases due to uncertain position of the tribunal.

An official said that there is confusion after the promulgation of the Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018 as it didn’t say anything about its working. He said the chairman and members of the tribunal cannot hear the cases until the uncertainty about its fate is cleared.

On the other hand, the people from tribal districts have started submission of appeals in the Peshawar High Court (PHC) against the decisions by the Fata political authorities, now called tribal district administrations.

However, the fate of 485 cases pending in the Fata Tribunal is hanging in the balance.

The lawyers, litigants and prisoners have been asking the federal government to issue notification to disband the tribunal or transfer the pending cases to the high court for disposal as these revision petitions are pending there since years.

Qamar Nadeem Afridi, lawyer of Dr Shakil Afridi, told The News that Shakil Afridi’s revision petition has also been pending with the tribunal for around four years.

He said on the previous hearing held on August 2, the Fata Tribunal’s registrar adjourned the case till October 3 as the tribunal is dysfunctional.

Dr Shakil Afridi, arrested on the charge of helping the American CIA trace al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden through a fake vaccination campaign in Abbottabad, has challenged the upholding of his conviction by the appellate forum of the FCR commissioner for having links with a banned militant outfit.

The FCR commissioner on March 15, 2014 upheld the conviction of Dr Shakil Afridi for being linked to the banned militant organisation of Bara tehsil in the then Khyber Agency but reduced his original prison term slapped by the assistant political agent’s court from 33 years to 23 years and fine from Rs320,000 to Rs220,000. He had challenged the verdict in the tribunal, but the case is pending without any hearing.

Muhammad Iqbal Mohmand, a senior lawyer from the tribal districts, told The News that his five cases were also pending before the tribunal since years and are simply adjourned due to non-functioning of the tribunal.

He urged the government to direct the registrar of the tribunal to shift the pending cases to the high court as the prisoners and litigants were suffering due to the months’ long pendency of the cases.

“Recently I filed an appeal in the Peshawar High Court against the decision of the tribal administration regarding a land dispute and compensation instead of filing it in the dysfunctional tribunal,” he pointed out.

The issue emerged after the issuance of Fata Interim Governance Regulation, 2018 notification by the President of Pakistan notified on May 28.

Through the interim regulation, a legal framework regarding proceedings in civil and criminal cases is provided after repealing the FCR.

For the purpose of the interim regulation, the political agent was declared the deputy commissioner, additional political agent the additional deputy commissioner and assistant political agent as the assistant commissioner.

Like FCR, the new regulation says, “the appeal against the order made by the deputy commissioner (political agent) or the judge shall lie to the commissioner or additional commissioner authorised by the governor.”

The regulation says an appeal against the order of the appellate authority (commissioner or additional commissioner) may be filed before the high court.