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Parliament role in state functioning defended – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator and former Senate chairman Mian Raza Rabbani has called for strict compliance with the scheme of trichotomy of power — the division of powers among the executive, judiciary and the legislature — under the Constitution.

“In the constitutional scheme of trichotomy of power, the state has relegated parliament to be the weakest link. Yet parliament has limped on,” Mr Rabbani said in a statement issued a day after Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa in a speech regretted that the parliament did not accord priority to the justice system.

Read: Chief justice urges parliament to act to ensure dispensation of justice

Speaking at a national conference on “Expeditious Justice Initiative: Roadmap to Time-Bound Criminal Trial Regime” at the Federal Judic­i­al Academy in Islamabad last week, the CJP had said it was for the state and the legislature to come up with clear and unambiguous laws which sho­u­ld be easy to apply. He had said the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan had submitted about 70 reports to the parliament and the law ministry for attending to different parts of laws, which needed amendments or substitution of different provisions. However, unfortunately, none of the reports had so far been taken up by the parliament, he had deplored.

Justice Khosa had requested as the judiciary had taken responsibility on its side, the parliament and the executive must also show interest in the justice system so that the entire system could start delivering.

Mr Rabbani, in his statement, explained that the reports from the law commission or such other bodies as per rules were sent to the federal government (the executive) and it was for them to comply or otherwise with the recommendations contained therein.

“No such report is pending with the parliament,” Mr Rabbani clarified.

The former Senate chairman regretted that “historically, elected parliaments had been besieged and functioned under the sword of Damocles.”

He said the constitutional deviations had received validation from courts and parliaments alike, except the 18th Amendment. “For the first time in the country’s parliamentary history, the Senate of Pakistan itself took initiative to bring forward legislation for the provision of inexpensive and speedy justice to the people of Pakistan,” he said while recalling the time when as the Senate chairman he had referred the issue of legal reforms to the Senate committee of the whole.

For the first time, Senator Rabbani recalled that the then CJP addressed the Senate committee in the parliament house.

Mr Rabbani said the report of the committee with the drafted eight bills was placed in the house in December 2015. The bills placed before the Senate were the Anti-Terrorism Act (Amendment) Bill 2015; Arbitration and Conciliation Bill 2015; Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill 2015; Criminal Laws (Amend­ment) Bill 2015; Land Acqui­sition (Amendment) Bill 2015; Law Reform (Amendment) Bill 2015; Supreme Court (Number of Judges) (Amendment) Bill 2015 and Witness Protection, Security and Benefit Bill 2016.

The bills, he said, were jointly tabled by the leader of the house, the opposition lea­der and leaders of all parliamentary parties and passed by the House. He said the Witness Protection, Security and Ben­efit Bill and Land Acqu­isition (Amendment) Bill after passage from the National Asse­mbly had already become law.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2019

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