SC takes Suo Motu notice

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Govt’s influence over under investigation matters
-CJP says such actions can undermine functioning of Criminal Justice system
-Notice of matter took over recommendation from SC Judge
-Five-member Bench to hear case today

By Anzil Amin

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial Wednesday took a Suo Motu notice on the perceived apprehension of “persons in authority” undermining the criminal justice system.
In a press release, the apex court said the CJP took the notice of perceived interference in the “independence of the prosecution branch in the performance of its powers and duties for the investigation and prosecution of pending criminal matters involving persons in authority in the government”.
The chief justice took notice of the perceived interference on the recommendations of a judge belonging to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the statement said.
The court, expressing worries, said that such perceived interferences may influence the prosecution of cases, tampering, disappearing of evidence in courts or in possession of prosecuting agencies, and transfer and postings of officers on key posts.
“Such actions, along with media reports to modify accountability laws, are likely to undermine the functioning of the criminal justice system in the country and that tantamounts to violation of fundamental rights affecting the society as a whole and eroding the confidence of the people in the rule of law and constitutionalism in the country,” the statement said.
Taking notice of the matter, the chief justice has fixed the matter for Thursday (today) at 1pm before a five-member larger bench to be headed by himself. The SC did not disclose the names of the members.
It is pertinent to mention here that key figures from within the allied parties of the new government have called for either complete dissolution of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or amendments to the corruption watchdog’s laws.
Last month, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi called for the institution’s dissolution and said it should be held accountable. Meanwhile, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari, last week, said that changes in the NAB laws were necessary before going to the next general elections. On Tuesday, the cabinet consented to amendments and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif constituted a committee to reform NAB’s “draconian law” to do away with political victimisation. The cabinet members were of the view that NAB’s “draconian law” had been used for political victimisation and to intimidate government officers and the business community.