ISLAMABAD: A meeting headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Nasir-ul-Mulk on Wednesday observed that only 10-15 percent of the pending anti-terrorism cases pertained to bomb blasts or militancy related terrorism by proscribed organizations or elements in these courts whereas rest of the cases were being tried in those courts, which technically fall within the definition of ‘terrorism’.
The meeting, held here at the Supreme Court, was chaired by CJP, and attended by the Chief Justices of High Courts and Incharge Monitoring Judges of High Courts. The meeting discussed different strategies regarding the ATC cases pending with different courts in Pakistan.
At the outset of the meeting, the CJP 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 on December 16.
The CJP stated that the incident has been, and will be, condemned throughout by everybody, adding that 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”, the CJ stated. He said 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.
He said that 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, the meeting made the decisions including that, the trial of militancy related terrorism cases will be given priority and heard on day-to-day basis as provided under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The Anti-Terrorism Court Judges were directed to 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.
It was decided that, 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 will 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.
It was further decided that the Monitoring Judges of the High Courts will 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 and the reports of the monthly meetings will be forwarded to the Judges of the Supreme Court supervising the respective High Courts.
It was also decided that the Provincial Governments will take steps to reallocate the premises of the Anti-Terrorism Courts in consultation with the Chief Justice of the concerned High Court to facilitate their smooth functioning.
It was decided that, as regards the Anti-Terrorism appeals pending in the High Courts and the Supreme Court, the courts offices will bifurcate the same into militancy related cases and others so that the former category cases are heard on priority basis and the Chief Justices will ensure that the exercise of bifurcation of the cases is done at the earliest in their respective courts.
It was held that the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan Secretariat will be tasked to review the Anti-Terrorism law, formulate recommendations, and thereafter steps will be taken to forward the same to the concerned quarters for further action expeditiously.
And, the reports on the above measures will be forwarded to the Monitoring Judges of the Supreme Court as well as the Chief Justice of Pakistan so that follow up meetings are held on regular basis.