Cases pending due to non-existence of ATCs in tribal districts

PESHAWAR: The Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court (PHC), Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth on Friday directed the Attorney General of Pakistan and KP Advocate general to explain the policy regarding the terrorism-related cases as tribal districts are still deprived of Anti-Terrorism Courts (ATCs).

Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, only the special anti-terrorism court can hear such cases. Thus, there is a legal vacuum about the hearing into those cases in the newly merged districts of the province.

The Chief Justice also ordered to assist the PHC regarding the future of verdicts issued by former political administration under the Frontier Crime Regulation, as the high court is receiving scores of appeals against those judgements issued under FCR. Under the FCR and Frontier Interim Governance Regulation, commissioners were given the status of the appellate court but the high court has already declared that powers null and void. Thus a legal vacuum prevails in all the seven new districts of the province.

A two-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Nasir Mehfooz prepared the reference and issued notices to Attorney general of Pakistan and KP advocate general to assist the court on issues in question till March 20. The high court will decide in the reference as to which of the forum will exercise those powers to fill the legal vacuum.

After the Frontier Crime Regulation (FCR) is abolished what will be the policy for deciding to terrorism-related cases as there is still no ATCs available in any of the tribal district, remarked Justice Seth. The Chief Justice added that there are huge numbers of terrorism-related cases all the seven districts, which court will be empowered to deal with all those cases?

Another issue created after the abolishment of the FCR, The court remarked, that Since the FCR has been abolished through a constitutional amendment and regular courts have been extended, but there were still a large number of verdicts made under the British era law for which federal government has not yet devised any policy. As the PHC now receives appeals against those judgments, the government must provide a policy to deal with it.

To deal with the legal complications created, due to the merger of tribal areas with the province, and abolishment of the Frontier crime regulation act, the Chief of Peshawar high court has asked centre make the high court enlightened about the government policy for the courts to follow for the dispensation of justice

Justice Seth ordered the AGP of Pakistan to submit response till March 20, so that the court decides the cases accordingly.

Court issues warrants for Assistant commissioner, Central Kurram

PESHAWAR: The Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Friday issued a warrant for the assistant commissioner of central Kurram for failure to submit a reply in a case filed by the family of Nazeem Shah, currently under the custody of district administration.

The court has issued several orders to the Assistant Commissioner to explain why Nazeem Shah has been kept in custody without giving him a fair trial. However, the AC, Central Kurram has not submitted any reply to the court.

Nazeem’s attorney informed the court that he was arrested by the former Police administration of Kurram under the defunct Frontier Crime Regulation but he is still under the custody of the administration despite the merger of tribal areas with the province and extension of regular courts. His lawyer argued the court that his client is innocent and was arrested in connection with the crimes committed by one his relative.

The Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth asked Assistant advocate general to explain why despite of courts’ orders no reply is submitted before the bench. However, the AAG could not provide a satisfactory reply due to which the justice Seth issued warrants for the assistant commissioner to appear before the court during the next hearing of the case.