Associated Press Service
ISLAMABAD: The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk chaired meeting of Hon’ble Chief Justices of High Courts and Incharge Monitoring Judges of High Courts in Supreme Court, Islamabad today (24.12.2014) to discuss different strategies regarding the ATC cases pending with different courts in Pakistan. The meeting was attended by Hon’ble Mr. Anwar Khan Kansi, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Maqbool Baqar, Chief Justice, High Court of Sindh, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmad, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mengal, Chief Justice Balochistan High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, Monitoring Judge ATC, Islamabad High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, Monitoring Judge ATC, High Court of Sindh, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Yahya Afridi, Monitoring Judge ATC, Peshawar High Court, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, Monitoring Judge ATC, Lahore High Court, and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, Monitoring Judge ATC, Balochistan High Court.
2. To begin with, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan welcomed the participants and thanked them for attending this urgent meeting convened at a very short notice to discuss the issues pertaining to expeditious trial and decision of the Anti-Terrorism cases in the aftermath of the unfortunate incident of ruthless terrorism that took place in Peshawar last week. The Hon’ble Chief Justice stated that the incident has been, and will be, condemned throughout by everybody. Everyone is hurt, the entire nation is hurt; indeed it is a national tragedy. This forum shares the sentiments of the nation in general, and the bereaved families in particular. May the departed souls have eternal peace and may the bereaved families have patience and courage to bear this irreparable loss! He stated that soon after the incident, he visited Peshawar and met the lawyers there as well as some of the students admitted in the hospital who had survived the incident.
3. A monitoring mechanism vis-à-vis the working of the Anti-Terrorism Courts is in place. One Judge of each High Court is nominated as a Monitoring Judge of the Anti-Terrorism Courts working under its supervision whereas four Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court have been nominated for the four Provinces to supervise the monitoring exercise being conducted in the High Courts. On perusal of the reports received from the High Courts/Anti-Terrorism Courts, it was observed that only 10-15% of the Anti-Terrorism cases pertained to bomb blasts/militancy related terrorism by proscribed organizations/elements in these courts whereas rest of the cases were being tried in those Courts as they technically fall within the definition of ‘terrorism’. After having discussed the entire spectrum of the issues from different angles, following decisions were made: –
(i) Trial of militancy related terrorism cases shall be given priority and heard on day-to-day basis as provided under the Anti-Terrorism Act;
(ii) The Anti-Terrorism Court Judges must bound down the witnesses, the investigation/prosecution agencies and the defence counsel for a particular date so that the cases are tried on day-to-day basis;
(iii) As regards the Province of Balochistan and the Malakand Division, where FC/Levies personnel/Revenue officials are entrusted with the registration of FIRs and investigation of cases, the concerned Government functionaries shall ensure that that police officers, who are actually trained in the processes of registration/investigation of cases are immediately inducted by requisitioning the services of the suitable personal from the police departments;
(iv) The Hon’ble Monitoring Judges of the High Courts shall hold meeting once a month, which will be attended by all the stakeholders, namely, the Presiding Officers of the Anti-Terrorism Courts, representatives of the investigation/ prosecution agencies, jail authorities, home departments, etc., so as to sort out the bottlenecks at that level. The reports of the monthly meetings shall be forwarded to the Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court supervising the respective High Courts;
(v) The Provincial Governments shall take steps to reallocate the premises of the Anti-Terrorism Courts in consultation with the Hon’ble Chief Justice of the concerned High Court to facilitate their smooth functioning;
(vi) As regards the Anti-Terrorism appeals pending in the High Courts and the Supreme Court, the Courts offices shall bifurcate the same into militancy related cases and others so that the former category cases are heard on priority basis. The Hon’ble Chief Justices shall ensure that the exercise of bifurcation of the cases is done at the earliest in their respective Courts;
(vii) The Law & Justice Commission of Pakistan Secretariat will be tasked to review the Anti-Terrorism law formulate recommendations, and thereafter steps shall be taken to forward the same to the concerned quarters for further action expeditiously; and
(viii) Reports on the above measures will be forwarded to the Hon’ble Monitoring Judges of the Supreme Court as well as the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan so that follow up meetings are held on regular basis.