Accountability courts lack checks and balances: Senate panel

ISLAMABAD: The Senate special committee on law reforms on Wednesday observed that accountability courts as well as other special courts were working without any ‘checks and balances’ and were neither under the supervision of high courts nor under the administrative control of the law ministry.

The committee held its meeting under the chairmanship of Senator Farooq H. Naek that was attended among others by Senators Rana Maqbool Ahmed, Azam Khan Swati, former Senator Anwar Bhinder, legal expert Raja Inam Ameen Minhas and officials of the law and justice ministry.

Senator Naek, while taking up an agenda item related to the merger of special courts with the sessions courts, observed that the accountability courts and special courts of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were working without any supervision or checks and balances.

Law ministry adviser says these are special courts, but federal authorities have no supervisory role over them

Senator Rana Maqbool asked president of the Islamabad High Court Bar Association Ameen Minhas to apprise the committee on who was supervising the accountability courts.

Mr Minhas replied that as per his personal knowledge, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) supervised the affairs of the accountability courts, which according to him, was a conflict of interest.

Adviser to the ministry of law and justice retired Justice Sardar Mohammad Raza told the committee that though these courts were special courts of the federal government, the authorities had no supervisory role in these courts.

He said that the federal government only made appointment with the consent of the chief justice of the high court concerned and then the court operated on its own.

Senator Naek said that if the special courts were merged with the sessions courts then the high court could effectively monitor and supervise them.

The committee discussed the Illegal Disposition Act 2005 and proposed making the definition of land grabbers clearer in the law as it affects not just the land grabbers but also individual cases and those who buy land thinking they had fulfilled all lawful requirements. The committee decided to examine in detail the scope of the law and to study the relevant judgements of the Supreme Court before suggesting any amendments.

It also discussed the Guardian and Wards Act, 1861, Muslim Family Law Ordinance, 1961, Succession Act, 1888 and decided to call the Council of Islamic Ideology in the next meeting in relation to matters of child custody and maintenance money given to wife after divorce.

The committee also discussed the problems created by complicated and long hierarchy of the judicial system and called for removing barriers and unnecessary details in the system.

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