ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has underlined the importance of rule of law for the development of the county, saying that no country can develop without rule of law.
Addressing a function on criminal law reform, here on Thursday, the prime minister said that the common man’s crime was his poverty and the powerful must be brought under the rule of law. He said that if anybody thinks that the country can be developed without rule of law, he is living in a fantasy world. The prime minister congratulated the law minister and his team on legal reforms.
He said that in Pakistan, the justice system only benefited the powerful and the ordinary people are packed in jail with stories that poverty was their only crime.
The prime minister said no society had developed without a legal system. The premier stated that the legal system of foreign countries has been improved with time and use of technology but deplored that Pakistan’s system has been declining ever since the departure of the British. He said that all the systems that were necessary to lift the country and its people have declined and consequently, there was a gulf between the rich and the poor. He said that the education system also declined.
Similarly, he said that the condition of government hospitals also deteriorated and private hospitals started taking over them while rich people started going abroad for treatment.
He said that the purpose of this system which has been introduced today is to give access to justice to the common man. The concept of state of Madinah is limited to Friday sermons only. The prime minister said that a step like health insurance does not exist even in many prosperous countries, adding giving free insurance to every family is an important step towards welfare.
He said that overseas Pakistanis are our asset with whose remittances Pakistan is running the economy but they are not ready to invest in Pakistan. He further said that he himself has been an overseas Pakistani, so he knows that they are not ready to invest in Pakistan as there is no rule of law.
The prime minister said that if nine million overseas people would start investing in Pakistan then the country would not have to go to the IMF. Reko Diq case imposed a fine of $6 billion on Pakistan. If this case was settled in our courts then such a huge loss could have been avoided.
He appealed to the lawyers that it was their job now to implement the criminal reforms.
The prime minister said that Switzerland is at the top of the Rule of Law Index, our Northern Areas are better than Switzerland but because of the lack of Rule of Law, we cannot earn even $100 billion from tourism.
He further said that bringing the powerful before the law is the biggest jihad, you have done extraordinary work by using technology in reforms, this is also the purpose of the EVM, and common man is in dire need of these reforms.
The prime minister said that billions of rupees do not flow out of the accounts of ministers in Switzerland. For us, for example, the same principle was established by Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) in the state of Madinah, where all were equal in the eyes of the law, even the Jews from the time of the caliph would win the case.
He said that the biggest jihad for us is to bring the powerful before the law. You have done extraordinary work by using technology in criminal reforms. This is the purpose of introducing EVMs too. Earlier, addressing the function, Federal Minister for Law Farogh Naseem said that today is an extraordinary day for Pakistan and it is also very important for the PTI and MQM.
He said that our Penal Code is 1860, Criminal Procedure Code is also 1898, it took 15 years for criminal reforms in England, you gave me this responsibility in March last year, I drafted it in June. Given you and with the help of all stakeholders it took only seven months, which would not have been possible without the cooperation of the prime minister.
He further said that Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Ejaz Shah, Azam Swati, Shibli Faraz, Farrukh Habib, Zartaj Gul, and Ali Muhammad Khan also contributed a lot in this process.
The law minister said that today with these criminal reforms we are introducing Civil Procedure Court, Pakistan Penal Code, Law of Evidence and an Independent Prosecution Service, also setting up a forensic laboratory and prison laws.
“It includes a total of about 700 amendments, which will completely change the legal system. 50 percent of our population is women. We have also introduced the principle of enforcement of property rights for these women,” he said. Under which, cases and hearings have also started, which are being disposed of in three months.
He said that the budget allocated for the police did not reach the police stations.
He said that according to these reforms, officers with a BA degree would be given preference for the next SHO.
Farogh Naseem said that there was a major issue of Section 220A,adding that in order to reduce the pressure on the courts, we have made an amendment that if the SHO does not register an FIR, then the people can go to the SP. We can take recourse because we did not suspend 220A as requested by the lawyers.
He said that laboratories and budget for forensics have also been approved; modern technology will also come, which will take the justice system to the top.
He said that an independent prosecution service is also being introduced which will reduce the pressure on the system. In Japan, there is an independent prosecution service, which sends the case only after confirmation of connection; therefore, the conviction rate is 99 percent.
Farogh Naseem said that in these reforms, we have fixed a time limit of nine months for adjudication of the case. After nine months, the trial judge will have to give an explanation. Action will be taken, the opposition leaders who are criticizing it should understand that criticizing this clause will mean that you do not want quick decisions.
He said that after introducing these reforms, the next step is to implement what is not possible in one day. Pakistan’s 140th number in Transparency International came because of the Rule of Law issue.
He said that the police, investigators, and the people are also responsible for this, they should also be aware of their rights and responsibilities.
The Law Minister said that he would also commend Justice Athar Minallah for accepting our civil reforms.
At the same time, he said, “I urge everyone, including the District Judiciary, the Provisional Judiciary and the High Court, to ensure the implementation of civil reforms.”He said that under these reforms, it would be possible to freeze the bank accounts, identity cards, passports, and other items of the fugitive accused through the court. Therefore, if a fugitive accused has fled from Pakistan to London or Saudi Arabia, his bank account can also be frozen.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022