ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Law and Justice reportedly proposed 644 amendments to laws, rules and procedures, including plea bargaining in specific cases in court, saving offenses punishable by death, life imprisonment or more than seven years, informed sources said Business recorder.
Dr Farogh Naseem, Minister of Law and Justice has already initiated discussions at the Cabinet Committee level on the disposition of legislative affairs (CCLC) with members of the Cabinet in light of the deliberations held in the direction issued by the Cabinet. federal.
On September 14, 2021, the Minister of Law and Justice informed the Cabinet that the rules of criminal procedure and evidence are currently archaic. To make the laws and rules of criminal procedure and evidence more effective, it was imperative to revise these laws, rules and procedures for the speedy resolution of cases, to ensure a fair trial and the use of modern electronic devices. .
After extensive research and analysis, he submitted the first draft of holistic penal reforms in the first week of June 2021 for consideration.
The Minister of Law submitted the following proposals to reform the entire criminal justice system: (i) more than one hundred important amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898, the Pakistani Penal Code of 1860, to the ‘Qanun-e-Shahadat Order of 1984 and other laws. were in the process of being proposed; (ii) a new Bill for a Prosecution Service in the Capital Territory of Islamabad titled Bill on the Prosecution Service (Constitution, Functions and Powers) of the Capital Territory of Islamabad, 2021 had been drafted; (iii) a new Forensic Laboratory Bill in Islamabad Capital Territory titled the 2021 Forensic Science Agency Bill of the Capital Territory of Islamabad has also been drafted. drafted; Article 402 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898; and ; (v) Comprehensive new amendments had been introduced in Chapters V and XIV of the Pakistan Prison Regulations, 1978, which deal with appeals and petitions, and death row inmates.
It was pointed out that although this was the mandate of the Home Office, under which the subject of criminal law was placed, the Federal Cabinet, by its decision, had asked the Federal Minister of Laws to carry out legal reforms. criminal; therefore, the summary was initiated by the Law Division.
The Minister of Law and Justice underlined that a total of 644 amendments were proposed. It was also pointed out that these were drafted within six months, while it took India 25 years to prepare for these reforms. The general thrust of the proposed changes was to encourage timely dispensation from justice by removing the additional workload of the judiciary on the one hand and setting deadlines for the resolution of cases on the other. While facilitating the timely registration of FIRs, measures to control frivolous and bogus cases have been introduced. It was stressed that these envisaged reforms will ultimately bring relief and benefit the Pakistani people.
Informing the Cabinet of some of the specific amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898, the Minister of Law and Justice presented the following:
(i) – Article 20-A – this article read with article 154 posed major problems. Police did not register FIR and when they did they were known to do so in bogus cases, due to which litigants / lawyers rushed to court. As a result, the courts were inundated with Section 22-A claims and therefore had no time to deal with other cases. In order to solve this problem, Article 22-A (6) has been introduced, which requires the exhaustion of all remedies. Now, this was to be linked to the Section 154 discussion which provided that if an SHO did not register a case, the case should be referred to a SP. The involvement of a SP would ensure rapid registration of the FIR when a case has been established, and non-registration when no such case has been established. This would automatically reduce the burden of Article 22-A cases, without giving the bar the opportunity to protest
(ii) – Section -44, Qatl-e-Amd under section 300, for which the penalty under section 308 could be Diyat (blood cost) has been added for reporting to the magistrate / JP or to the police. This is a very important proposition.
(iii) – Article-46- This proposal reduced the possibility of male police officers touching women during an arrest. The presence of policewomen was encouraged in the case of accused women.
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(iv) – Article 54 – The amendment required that the arrest on the basis of suspicion be reported to the SHO, which was to record the reasons for the arrest in writing. This would significantly reduce police abuse, both in rural and urban areas.
(v) – Article 54A- New comprehensive procedures have been suggested in the event of arrest in order to control police abuses. The arrested person should be immediately informed of the reasons for his arrest and allowed to inform his family. In addition, within 24 hours, he could hire a lawyer of his choice or a state lawyer if he did not have the money. Consultations between the accused and the lawyer would not be heard.
(vi) – Section 54AA- This amendment was intended to facilitate accused compliance and reduce police abuse. In cases where arrest was not required, the accused was facilitated to appear without arrest on notice. In the event that he continued to appear, he would not be arrested, except for reasons otherwise recorded. If the accused did not want to, he would be arrested.
(vii) – Article 88- Under the proposed amendment for the fugitive accused, the CNIC, all other identity documents issued by NADRA, passport, bank cards and bank account would be blocked. If the declared offender appears in court, the court may order the release.
(viii) – Section 144A- The new section prohibits the carrying of weapons in processions, mass exercises and mass training. This would preserve peace and security. A public notice would be published, which would remain in effect for three months, extendable up to six months. This provision would prohibit all weapons, including batons and sticks.
(ix) -Article 154— This was again a substantial amendment. A copy of the registered FIR would be given to the informant free of charge. In the event that the SHO did not register the FIR, the informant would send the information to the relevant SP by mail or electronically. In the event that the SP is convinced that the disclosed information of a recognizable infringement commission, it will order the SHO to file the FIR. Enabling clauses have been given to prescribe rules for the electronic registration of FIRs in cases of identifiable violations and for investigations and investigations, and for automation, using a web-based system and the creation of databases and interconnect them with NADRA and other authorities.
(x) – Article 156- Subject to the law, henceforth any technique, modern device or forensic method would be usable for investigative purposes.
(xi) – Section 156E – Federal and provincial governments would ensure the availability of the latest models of technology and devices for forensic investigations, for which rules would be defined.
(xii) – Article 160- A new procedure concerning attendance at the police station has been given. Men under fifteen and over sixty-five, women and the mentally or physically disabled would only be interviewed at their place of residence.
(xiii) – Article 161- Under the new procedure, a declaration 161 had to be recorded in audio / video. In the event that such recording was not possible, the police officer would record the reasons in writing.
(xiv) – Section 164- The new amendment allowed the audio / video recording of statement 164.
(xv) – Section 265 O- Trial in sessions for frivolous conforming compensation up to one million rupees would be granted.
(xvi) – Article 265 P- The trial schedule is introduced – the trial must be completed within 9 months. A monthly progress report would be submitted to the relevant High Court with a copy to the federal and provincial ministries of laws. Explanations will be offered to the court of first instance if the trial has not ended within 9 months. If the first instance court’s explanation was plausible, further time limits will be given by the High Court. Ultimately, the High Court, holding the trial judge responsible, could take disciplinary action against him for delay.
(xvii) – Section 266- The pleadings all over the world have been a great success. This will fundamentally reduce the backlog and allow the Court to focus on the remaining cases. The plenary will not apply to offenses punishable by death, life imprisonment or a penalty exceeding seven years. Plea bargaining will also not apply to crimes involving women, children and issues affecting socio-economic conditions. Socio-economic conditions and related offenses to which the sentence negotiation system will not apply, may be notified by the federal government. The justice ministry says it has found that most cases that do not carry a sentence of more than seven years are excessively delayed, that inmates suffer in prisons and that ultimately, due to a lack of available witnesses, the accused are acquitted after many years. The proposal must therefore remedy this situation.
(xviii) – Section 266A – Plea bargaining will not apply to an accused already convicted of the same offense. Victims will receive compensation and other expenses. The Court proceeds to a satisfactory settlement of the case.
(xix) – Section 266 B- This provided guidelines for the mutually satisfactory resolution of the plea bargaining case.
(xx) – Section 266 C-If no satisfactory provision has been worked out, the Court would proceed with the case.
(xxi) – Article 266 D- Settlement of the case under sentence negotiation would include the award of compensation, supervised release for good behavior, half of the minimum sentence or a quarter of the minimum sentence. A full mechanism had been given. The Minister of Law and Justice informed that the ministry is filing comments on the executive judiciary at the Supreme Court of Pakistan within two weeks. Once the directives / decisions are transmitted by the Supreme Court, they will be incorporated accordingly in the amendments made to the reform of the criminal law.
During the discussion, members made various suggestions, but it was suggested that since only approval in principle was sought and the detailed review would be carried out within the CCBC, members could either give their notice in writing to the Minister for Law & Justice or inform him of their willingness to participate in the deliberations of the CCBC. Members who wish to contribute to the discussion will be invited to CCLC as special guests.
After extensive discussion, the Cabinet cleared the concept of proposals and asked Cabinet members, who wished to make suggestions, either to communicate in writing to the Minister of Law and Justice or to inform him of their desire to participate in the deliberations of the CCBC. Members who wish to contribute to the discussion will be invited to CCLC as a special guest.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021