Tuesday February 27, 2024

Supreme Court asks ministries to implement police committee report

October 04, 2019

PESHAWAR: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has written a letter to Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Law and Justice for implementation of the report of the Police Reforms Committee constituted by the Chief Justice of Pakistan as chairman of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan.

“I am directed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman Law and Justice Commission to inform you that the then Chief Justice of Pakistan constituted the Police Reforms Committee on May 15, 2018 consisting of a number of well-reputed retired and all serving Inspector Generals’ of Police to make recommendations to address major police professional matters, especially flaws in investigation and the ineffective police accountability,” stated the letter issued by Dr Muhammad Raheem Awan, secretary Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, on Thursday.

In the letter, a copy of which is available with The News, it was stated that the Police Reforms Committee (PRC) held several meetings, including those with two top lawyers of Pakistan. It said the committee submitted the first volume of its report relating to Model Police Law, 2018 containing specific provisions, including Investigation, Police Accountability, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Urban Policing.

It said the PRC submitted the second volume of the report relating to “Accountability, Operational Matters and Legislative Reforms” in September 2018. It added that the PRC report titled “Police Reforms: Way Forward” was formally launched on January 14, 2019 by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

“Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and chairman of Law and Justice Commission as a matter of priority placed special focus on redressal of public complaints, improvement in quality of investigation, training of investigation officers, prosecutors and judges and Criminal Justice Reforms with reference to antiterrorism cases,” the letter stated.

It said that the Chief Justice of Pakistan, while addressing opening ceremony of the New Judicial Year 2019-20 on September 11, observed that no meaningful reforms can be introduced in the Criminal Justice Sector unless the police in the country are also reformed and for the purpose PRC was constituted under the umbrella of Law and Justice Commission with the chief justice of Pakistan as its chairman.

The chief justice observed that it was decided by the committee to set up the office of Superintendent of Police (Complaints) in every district of the country so that people having grievances against the working of the local police should have a forum available within the police department to approach it for redressal of their grievances instead of approaching a court of law straightaway. According to statistics of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, in the last few months, 96,026 aggrieved persons have approached the offices of SP (Complaints) and the grievances of 89.609 of them have satisfactorily been redressed by that forum.

“The statistics also show that establishment of such forum of internal accountability within the police department has led to 39.7 percent reduction in filing of such complaints before the district judiciary in the country under section 22-A (6) CrPC and 14.2 percent reduction in institution of writ petitions in this field in the high courts of the country,” the letter stated. It was pointed out that if this reform had not been established by the PRC then 89,609 cases would have been filed before the courts which are already overburdened with work.

“The idea of Police Complaint Redressal Centres demonstrates the public confidence and trust. This idea has reduced unnecessary burden of thousands of cases on judiciary on the one hand, whereas on the other, the general public remained ultimate beneficiary of these complaints redressal centres,” the letter stated. It added that the Supreme Court in its judgment on January 21, 2109 in Civil Appeals has put to rest any ambiguity about the constitutional status of the police laws.

“The implementation of the PRC report requires the attention of the executive authorities and the legislature and should now be completed as soon as possible so that the institutions need to be put in place for external accountability along with improvements in laws in accordance with the judgments of the superior courts with coordination of the provincial governments. It said the chief justice has conveyed that the operational and administrative autonomy of the police is as vital as the independence of the judiciary and that any steps by the concerned functionaries should strictly adhere to the verdict of the Supreme Court judgment referred above. “In the circumstances, the undersigned is directed to share aforementioned reports of Police Reforms Committee for necessary action under intimation to the office as Chief Justice of Pakistan reviews progress on a monthly basis,” the letter added.