Govt to tweak criminal justice system

(Khuda Ki Basti Sources)The federal government on Wednesday decided to change the existing laws of the criminal justice system.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, while chairing a meeting on reforms in the system, gave the nod to new laws and amendments.

The amended bill will be presented to the cabinet for approval next week.

PM Imran, while speaking during the meeting, noted that rule of law was one of the top priorities of the government.

“Over time, the gap between the rich and the poor in the country widened due to the lack of significant changes in the criminal justice system,” he observed.

The premier maintained that the government was reforming the criminal justice system for the first time in the country’s history.

He added that the implementation of the reforms would enable the PTI government’s manifesto for the rule of law to be put into practice.

The prime minister was given a detailed briefing on the reforms.

Federal Law Minister Farogh Naseem while briefing on the amendments said graduation had been made mandatory for sub-inspectors and SHOs across the country.

Failure to register an FIR may result in application to the SP, who would be bound to take action.

Cases must be decided within nine months or else the judges would be answerable to the high court concerned.

The minister said police stations across the country would get government funds for necessary expenses including stationery and transport.

Obsolete traditions including walking on fire or hot coals to prove one’s innocence would be punishable.

In petty criminal cases, the sentence would be reduced from five years to only six months.

There would be no plea bargaining in crimes of heinous nature including murder, terrorism, rape and treason.

Mobile footage, images, voice recordings and modern devices would be accepted as evidence.

A forensic laboratory would be available for testing.

The law minister said that it had been decided to introduce a new law of an independent prosecution service similar to that in the US and the UK.

“These changes in the law will revolutionise the country’s police and judicial system,” he added.

“We are not bringing these reforms in the form of an ordinance and it will benefit the common man. The opposition should support this legislation.”

The participants of the meeting were informed that for the first time in country’s history, the government was bringing major changes in the system for which decisions had been made by taking all stakeholders on board.

The meeting was further informed that new offences and provisions had been proposed in the criminal law, including the “Stalking of Women”.

They were also told that amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure were also part of these reforms.

Separately, Addressing the launching ceremony of the new Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) policy, Prime Minister Imran assured that small and medium entrepreneurs the would take action against those creating hurdles in setting up businesses.

The new policy focuses on promoting business through facilitation in registration, streamlining of taxes, access to credit and provision of land. Under the new policy, Imran said, the government would provide leases to businesses and promote export culture in the country.

“The land is very expensive in our cities … the government would facilitate the businessmen by providing loans on low-interest rates and land on lease,” he said. “Action would be taken against those institutions that are creating hurdles [in setting up businesses],” he added.

The prime minister said that in the past, only wealthy traders used to get loans from banks but the government had changed this culture. “Now, even the small traders can avail the facility,” he said. “The policies of the government will soon yield results and many good things will come in the near future.”

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