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Setting up 120 Accountability Courts to cost ‘Rs2.86 Billion annually’

Discussion in 'Insaf - Justice' started by ghazi52, Jul 24, 2020.

  1. ghazi52

    ghazi52 PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Setting up 120 courts to cost ‘Rs2.86 b annually’


    Govt submits reply in SC regarding establishing accountability courts


    Hasnaat Malik
    July 22, 2020



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    The ministry reveals that there are 24 accountability courts functioning in the country.


    ISLAMABAD: The government has told the Supreme Court that an amount of Rs2.86 billion per annum would be required to establishment 120 accountability courts.

    The government reply came after the apex court on July 8 had ordered government’s action for setting up of the accountability courts to clear a huge backlog of cases as well as vacancies in five accountability courts out of a total of 25.

    Moreover, it was revealed that a total of 975 corruption cases were pending in 24 accountability courts in the country. The figure is much lower than 1,226 pending cases submitted by NAB to the Supreme Court.

    A report is submitted by the ministry of law and justice through Deputy Attorney General Sohail Mahmood regarding the apex court’s proposal about the setting up of 120 accountability courts to decide all pending graft cases.

    The ministry reveals that there are 24 accountability courts functioning in the country. In addition, five vacant posts in the accountability courts have been filled through a notification issued on July 14.

    The ministry report also shares details with the apex court of pendency in each accountability court. It is interestingly to note that the report points to less than 80 cases pending in every court. Average pendency of one accountability court is even less than 60 cases.

    The law ministry further reveals that expenditure to establish a new accountability court comes to Rs23.87 million per annum. Consequently, an amount of Rs2.86 billion per annum would be required for to establish 120 accountability courts.

    The ministry further shared requirements for the establishment of new courts: creation of posts by Establishment/Finance Division, approval of budget from finance division as well as the federal cabinet and final approval of the federal cabinet for establishment of new courts.

    It informed the Supreme Court that the ministry has started consultation with the relevant stakeholders to set up more courts.

    During the last hearing on July 8, the Supreme Court had ordered the federal government to immediately appoint judges at five ‘vacant’ accountability courts while ‘proposing’ to establish at least 120 accountability courts in the country to deal with 1,226 pending cases.

    The accountability courts were established under the National Accountability Ordinance (NAO) 1999 to adjudicate corruption references filed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) within 30 days.

    A Supreme Court three-judge bench -- hearing a suo motu case regarding delay in trial of corruption cases – noted that some corruption cases have been pending in these courts for 15 to 20 years while five accountability courts are without judges.

    In its three-page written order issued after the hearing, the bench -- led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed -- said it was unable to find the rationale and logic behind the courts left ‘vacant’ for a long period by the relevant authorities, adding that NAB has provided no reason for this.

    The order said the whole purpose of making accountability law seemed to be rendered futile if judges were not appointed to vacant courts. It noted that huge pendency of NAB cases demands appointment of more than hundred judges.

    “In view of the prevailing situation, the court has directed secretary law to immediately get instruction regarding its proposal about creation of at least 120 accountability courts and to fill up such courts with judges and distribute all cases among them for expeditious disposal of cases.”

    “The strength of accountability court all over Pakistan shall immediately be increased by the government in order to ensure that all the pending accountability cases come to their logical conclusion at fast pace and at least within three months time.”

    The bench also ordered the law secretary to fill the five vacant posts in the accountability courts within a week, warning that otherwise the court will initiate coercive action against responsible officials.

    The bench also summoned Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Javed Khan as well as law secretary on the next date of hearing, which is yet to fix. NAB prosecutor general was also asked to appear along with a report duly signed by NAB chairman describing as to how NAB proposes early conclusion of cases.

    "We may note that if measures are not adopted by the government and NAB, the whole purpose of law will stand vitiated which apparently was not the purpose of legislation,” said the order.
     
  2. Longhorn

    Longhorn FULL MEMBER

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    Rs2.86 billion is peanuts against the potential benefits of clean, effective and efficient business, bureaucracy and governance for Pakistan.
     
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  3. Clutch

    Clutch ELITE MEMBER

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  4. ghazi52

    ghazi52 PDF THINK TANK: ANALYST

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    Chairman NAB cites lack of accountability courts for delay in disposal of cases


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    It is impossible to conclude a corruption reference within a 30-day time frame due to a lack of accountability courts to adjudicate a high number of cases, Chairman NAB Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal on Saturday told the Supreme Court.

    The reply was submitted today in response to the directions issued by Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmed to the government to form 120 new accountability courts so all the pending National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases could be wrapped up within three months.

    The CJP had asked the law secretary to set up new courts after getting approval from the competent authorities. The court had also sought suggestions from the NAB chairman for the expeditious disposal of pending references.

    In a response submitted to the SC, the NAB chief said the anti-graft body had multiple times conveyed these issues to the government that the accountability courts are unable to meet the legal requirements due to a shortage of courts and judges.

    “That under section 16(a) of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 a timeframe of 30 x days is set for conclusion of trial by the Court and it is required to conduct proceedings on day-to-day basis. However, with the present strength of Accountability Courts and the workload of cases pending adjudication before each Accountability Court, (on average each Accountability Court is currently handling 50 x References), it practically is impossible to adjudicate and finalize matters within 30 x days.”

    He also stated that stay orders issued by the High Courts in petitions filed by the accused are also one of the reasons behind the backlog in the disposal of cases.

    The former SC judge maintained that the courts do not follow the rules laid down by the Supreme Court in granting bails, adding that the process to declare an accused as absconder is also time-consuming.

    The delay in mutual legal assistance from destinations is also cited as one of the reasons.

    He informed the court that due to the wrong definition of ‘politically exposed personalities’ by the courts it becomes difficult to explain this to the foreign agencies.

    The NAB chairman stated that 120 additional accountability courts needed to be established in Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi/ Islamabad and Balochistan.

    “If district and sessions judges are not available then retired judges can be hired for the purpose.”


    ‘Over 1,000 cases pending’


    A three-member bench of the apex court comprising Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Yahya Afridi, had asked the authorities to form 120 courts during the hearing of a case regarding the delay in the trial of cases by the accountability courts in the light of Section 16 of the National Accountability Ordinance, 1999 requiring a decision of NAB cases within 30 days.

    The court in its order said five accountability courts were vacant in Pakistan, whereas 1,226 cases were pending. The bench said no reason had been given as to why the vacant posts had not been filled up till now.

    “We are unable to understand the rationale or logic behind the courts [remaining] vacant for long periods by the relevant authorities. More so when we see that the cases before the accountability court are to be decided in terms of law within 30 days.

    “The courts keep lying vacant for even years and cases of that court remain pending,” the court order stated. The bench said the whole purpose of making of accountability law apparently seemed to be rendered futile if the courts were allowed to remain vacant.

    The bench noted that the number of pendency of cases in the accountability court demands more than a hundred number of judges/courts for dealing with and deciding these cases, as these references were being filed regularly and their numbers were also increasing while the numbers of courts were totally stagnant.