IHC seeks report from law and justice ministry
TERENCE J SIGAMONY
ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC) sought report from the Ministry of Law and Justice regarding implementation of factors mentioned in the World Justice Project “Rule of Law Index”.
The factors of Rule of Law Index are: constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice, and criminal justice.
A single bench of the IHC Chief Justice, Athar Minallah, on Saturday heard the case related to wrong and misleading information about its 20th March order to release under-trial prisoners (UTPs).
In pursuant of the direction, Secretary Ministry of Law and Justice Khashihur Rehan, Additional Attorney General Tariq Khokkar and Hasnaat Malik, reporter of an English newspaper, appeared before the bench.
The chief justice appreciated the reporter for highlighting that the government was not happy with the IHC order to release the UTPs.
The secretary and the AAG unequivocally disowned the news published in an English daily.
They informed the bench that the matter would be probed to identify the officials who had made the statements about the IHC orders dated March 20 and 24.
The chief justice noted that the under-trial prisoners who were involved in the cases pending before the courts within the jurisdiction of the IHC were incarcerated in the Central Prison, Rawalpindi, which was overcrowded and the living condition therein intolerable.
The order stated that the World Justice Project “Rule of Law Index” was acknowledged as the leading source for original and independent data on the rule of law.
The index has ranked Pakistan 120 out of 128 countries, whereas, last year Pakistan’s rank was 117. This ought to raise serious concerns.
The court said that most of the factors were within the domain of executive authorities and the courts were dependent on its effective implementation/performance.
When asked from the secretary about their implementation, he sought time.
The court inquired whether the constitutional requirement of submitting a report by the president before the parliament on the observance and implementation of the Principles of Policy has been fulfilled in the past and whether the obligations of the State, under Article 37(d) of Constitution, to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice has been highlighted.
The secretary also sought time to submit report on this as well.
The court said that most of the incarcerated under trial prisoners could not access the court because of financial constraints.
It is the duty of the executive authorities under various laws to take action so that inmates are not unnecessarily detained in prisons.
It is the duty of the prosecution and executive authorities to ensure that every prisoner has access to the court, and such duty is an integral part of the constitutional obligation to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice.
The Attorney General for Pakistan and Advocate General Islamabad asked to assist the court regarding the power of the IHC to pass order to ensure access of the prisoners to the court having regard to the constitutional obligation of the State of ensuring inexpensive and expeditious justice.
The case was adjourned until April 24.