Pakistan mulls transfer of court cases

January 09, 2014 - 12:00:00 am

ISLAMABAD: The standing committee on law and justice of Pakistan’s Senate has discussed a proposal to give powers to the government to transfer sensitive criminal cases from one district to another, for security of judges, witnesses and the parties concerned.

Law Secretary Barrister Zafarullah Khan told a meeting of the committee presided over by Senator Kazim Khan of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N that the power was previously available with the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau, official sources said here yesterday. He also suggested additional security for prosecutors and witnesses.

Senator Aitzaz Ahsan of Pakistan People’s Party said such provision was already there in the constitution. The committee deferred the matter till the next meeting.

When contacted, the law secretary said the provision was there in the Pakistan Protection Ordinance, but it required approval from parliament to make it part of the legal framework. 

He said at least one case was recently transferred from Karachi to another district for security concerns.

“In some cases it is required for security of the accused,” he said, adding that the committee approved a private bill for enhancing the sentence for desecration of a mosque to minimum of 10 years of imprisonment.

The bill was introduced by Senator Tahir Mashadi of Muttahida Qaumi Movement. He said he had originally proposed life sentence, but the committee agreed to 10 years of imprisonment.

Two other bills introduced by Mashadi were referred to the Senate. In one bill, he has proposed that the holders of dual nationality should be allowed to become lawmakers. 

The Senate body unanimously approved an amendment bill presented by Mohsin Leghari of the ruling party. 

If the bill is passed by parliament, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will be bound to hold local bodies’ elections within 45 days of expiry of their term.