Court: Judicial meeting recommends setting up two ATCs in Islamabad

ISLAMABAD: A judicial meeting chaired by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday recommended establishment of two AntiTerrorism Courts ATCs in Islamabad.

The meeting held in connection with monitoring the functioning of ATCs in the country, was attended by senior judges of Supreme Court including Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Nasirul Mulk and Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali as well as monitoring judges of High Courts, Supreme Court Registrar, Home Secretaries, IGPs, Additional IGPs, Secretaries Prosecutions and Prosecutors General of all provinces and IG Islamabad.

The meeting discussed and deliberated different issues regarding the reasons for acquittal and agreed that Islamabad was a capital territory having good number of anti terrorism cases, thus it was necessary that initially two courts may be established to deal with the cases of Islamabad along with all necessary infrastructure, staff and prosecutors etc, as presently, the anti terrorism cases of Islamabad were being heard at Rawalpindi ATCs.

The meeting discussed in details Article 21 of the AntiTerrorism Act 9ATA 1997, wherein the protection of judges, counsels, public prosecutors, witnesses and persons concerned with court proceedings is laid down and it was agreed that the government should make this process effective and ensure the protection as enshrined in the Article 21.

The meeting also took notice of a case in Sindh province wherein six witnesses were assassinated in a row and expressed concern on such negligence that if such incidents persists no one will come forward to record evidence.

The meeting said that there are 14 ATA Courts in Punjab, 11 in Sindh, 13 in KP and 6 in Balochistan. It was informed that 1344, 459, 1409 and 289 cases were decided in year 2012 in Punjab, Sindh, KP and Balochistan respectively against the current pendency of 437, 1405, 201 and 216 respectively.

The meeting said that in the case of Sh Liaquat Hussain Vs Federation of Pakistan PLD 1999 SC 504 the Supreme Court having decided the issue of legality of the law also issued certain guidelines to be observed by the ATC courts and related agencies like prosecution and investigation departments.

The chief Justice said that a major reason for non achieving desired results was the nonimplementation of certain provisions of the Anti Terrorism Act. He said if there is no sufficient evidence, it is not possible for the court to inflict punishment without determining the guilt of the person.

He showed concern that the rate of acquittal in anti terrorism cases was high which was alarming and measures should be taken to effectively prosecute the terrorism cases in all the provinces.

It was noted in the meeting that as per a report compiled by the prosecution department, government of the Punjab, the large rate of acquittal was on account of various factors, in particular, defective / dishonest investigation and weaknesses in prosecution.

The meeting observed that such defects and deficiency must immediately be addressed by the respective Provincial Government and necessary training imparted to investigators / prosecutors and requisite equipment including forensic lab should also be provided and the training of the prosecution should also be taken in hand so that these defects / deficiency are addressed and the law made deterrent as intended by the legislature.

The IGPs made their presentations regarding the causes of delay which are mostly due to defects in registration of cases, nonavailability of eyewitnesses, no description of accused, role of accused not specified, material evidence not mentioned, delay in FIR registration, defects in investigation, defects in identification parade, doubtful recovery, etc.

The meeting said that the provincial governments could also make legislation or at least tentative legislation for geo fencing and data collecting of mobile phone from the respective service providers.

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