Karachi: The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, calling for making police truly independent, on Friday cited the independence of police as important as that of the judiciary which could otherwise undermine the justice system.
Addressing a session on Justice Sector Reform held at the Central Police Office here on Friday, largely attended by serving and some retired police officers from across the country, he said in the context of criminal justice system, police and judiciary are inseparable. “We are conjoined twins and cannot work without each other,” commented the CJP.
Re-emphasizing his point, the CJP said reforms being introduced by the judiciary are also closely linked to police reforms initiated by his predecessor Chief Justice (retd) Mian Saqib Nisar, who had constituted a Police Reforms Committee. He said the top-most objective is to improve the police image through establishment of Public Complaint Committees in each of the 116 districts of the country, headed by superintendents of police to address grievances. “During the past few months, 71,452 complaints were registered and 57,000 were redressed to the satisfaction of the complainant,” said the chief justice.
Consequently, the load on lower courts has reduced by 11pc as complainants did not find any reason to approach the courts as their complaints were duly addressed while a 20pc decline was registered in the load on high courts as majority of public grievances were against the police. The CJP said it is not only that public are able to get their grievances efficiently settled but their confidence in police has significantly improved, reiterated CJP Khosa. Since the major criticism of the police department is with weak investigation leading to acquittal or release on bail of the accused by the courts, assessment committees are said to be constituted for each case.
Justice Khosa said each of the committees comprising a retired sessions judge and young lawyers are assigned to identify defects in the investigation duly conveyed to the investigation officers. Mentioning that false testimony is a major challenge for the justice system, he said efforts are being made to curtail the practice. Khosa said it is the responsibility of the police to establish the case through genuine witnesses and truthful testimony. The CJP emphasised that those offering false testimony and evidence must be considered equal partners in crime. He said a recent strong judgment to prevent false statements before the court is a major step with equal attention to curtail extensive dependence of the police investigators on the witnesses. Efforts are said to be required to ensure the formers’ capacity building with updated techniques of investigation through laboratory of forensic sciences functional in Lahore, considered among the best across the world. Emphasizing that bulk of public complaints are related to criminal cases, so as per the Supreme Court of Pakistan orders no adjournment is being allowed while the rollover system is also been streamlined to facilitate judges to hear the cases on regular basis.
The Chief Justice of Pakistan also referred to the Model Criminal Courts functional in 116 districts of the country and which during their first 86 working days were able to handle 9,767 cases related to murder and narcotics trial. “The good news is that in 12 of the districts in the country, there is zero pending murder cases which is absolutely phenomenal as we have just fine-tuned the same system,” he said.
As for the Model Civil Appellant Courts made functional on July 15 this year, they have decided hundreds of cases in just four days’ time with no single complaint by lawyers about law or legal procedure being violated or decision been given in haste. Two other special courts for gender based violence and child protection are also being established in each district of the country to address the issues that could not simply be ignored and culprits allowed to go scot free.
Reiterating that focus on speedy trial, the CJP said special benches of revenue court have also been set up which was claimed to have helped recovery of Rs43 crores. About e-Court system, he said it is for the first time in the judicial history of Pakistan that cases in the Supreme Court are heard through video-link connectivity. The e-Court system with its principal seat Islamabad connected to its registry in Karachi as well as Quetta are said to be cause of great relief to the litigants and lawyers.
The session was also addressed by former IG of Sindh Police and Convener of Police Reforms Committee, Afzal Ali Shigri, Secretary of the committee, Dr. Raheem Awan and Inspector General of Police -Sindh, Dr Kaleem Imam. A tribute was also paid to the martyrs and ghazis of the Pakistan Police Force. The family members of the cops having lost their lives in the line of duty were specially invited to the event along with several other dignitaries.