By Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The monitoring mechanism reflected in the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment for the accountability courts is well within the parameters of judicial functions of the Supreme Court and a practice that is going on for years.
However, the judgment has been grossly misinterpreted by some to show that it amounts to interference in the functions of the executive branch.
Independent sources in the Law Ministry confided to The News that all the special courts, set up in the past or are functioning right now in Pakistan, have been and are being monitored and supervised by the apex court, which adopts such monitoring mechanism to ensure that cases pending before the courts concerned do not get delayed unnecessarily.
The sources believe that those feeling uneasy with the monitoring mechanism announced in the Dec 16 judgment for the accountability courts are deliberately creating confusion to prove this judgment as a move by judiciary to interfere in the executive functions.
These sources said such elements are said to be oblivious of the fact that a similar monitoring mechanism is working in the apex court for anti-terrorist courts.
Even for high courts and the subordinate judiciary, a comprehensive monitoring mechanism is presently in place as part of the national judicial policy to ensure quick disposal of cases and to clear the backlog.
Following the government’s complaint that the terrorism cases are not timely pursued and result in increase in terrorism, the present Supreme Court under Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had set up an effective monitoring system to keep a vigilant eye on the anti-terrorist courts so that no unnecessary delay could occur in such cases.
Under this monitoring scheme, Justice Javed Iqbal serves as a monitor for anti-terrorism courts of Sindh; Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday oversees the ATCs in Frontier; Justice Nasirul Mulk supervises the Balochistan ATCs; and Justice Sardar Raza Khan is monitoring the performance of the Punjab ATCs.
Neither anyone had objected to this monitoring mechanism for the ATCs nor was any objection raised for such overseeing strategies adopted in the past for the special courts during the last three decades. However, the sources said a vested interest group is deliberately trying to create confusion for the monitoring mechanism evolved for the accountability courts by the Supreme Court.
In its latest judgment, which has unnerved many powerful and mighty in the government, the Supreme Court clearly said this mechanism is evolved to “monitor the progress and the proceedings in (NAB) cases”.
Since the NRO beneficiaries and their sympathisers were generally complaining that the cases terminated under the condemned NRO remained undecided for over 10 years, this mechanism was evolved to address these complaints and ensure the NAB accused get quick justice.
The NAB has been condemned by the NRO beneficiaries while the Supreme Court also found its incumbent chairman, the prosecutor general and the deputy prosecutor general incompetent. Therefore, the apex court judgment directed the Bureau to transmit periodical reports of the actions taken by them with regard to NAB cases to the Monitoring Cell of the apex court set up following the same order.
Interestingly, similar directions were given to all the provincial governments under the national judicial policy to ensure that the challans in criminal cases, pending before the lower or superior judiciary, are submitted by prosecution within the stipulated time period to avoid unnecessary delays in dispensing justice.