The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Monday approved ‘The National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ according to which the powers of plea bargain and voluntary return that rest with the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) chairman under Section 25 (a) of NAO, 1999 have been abolished. The committee which met with Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi approved ‘The National Accountability (Amendment) Bill, 2017’ under which now court will give approval of plea bargain and voluntary return.
A senior official of Ministry of Law and justice said that following widespread and persistent public demand for amendment in the provisions relating to voluntary return and plea bargain, which are generally perceived to promote corruption, it is proposed to appropriately amend the law. The bill merges the provisions relating to voluntary return and plea bargain and provides inter alia that a voluntary return arrangement will be subject to approval of the court and a corrupt person shall stand permanently disqualified form holding public office or from being a government servant.
The parliamentary panel unanimously passed ‘The Cost of Litigation Bill, 2017,’ seeking to empower courts to impose costs to discourage false litigation and unnecessary adjournments.
The committee which met under the chairmanship of Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, approved ‘The Cost of Litigation Bill, 2017’, moved by Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid, according to which the losing side in a court case will be paying the cost of the case and a fine of Rs 5,000 per hearing will be imposed on the party which gets an adjournment.
Hamid said that the bill will help end backlog of cases as it will speed up disposal of cases. Initially the bill will be confined to Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), he said, adding that three types of costs including actual, adjournment and special cost have been proposed in the bill.
He said that according to the bill, the party which wins the case will be given the actual litigation cost. Many false cases, including criminal cases, are filed each year due to which the bill was introduced, he said. Nawabzada Saifullah Magsi said the government and its various departments also take adjournments and therefore the law should be applied on the government as well. On this Hamid said it will be difficult to apply the law on the government and suggested that it should first be applied on cases between private parties and it will later be considered if it should be applied on government departments as well.
The committee also passed ‘The Alternate Dispute Resolution Act 2017’ seeking out-of-court settlements through arbitrators appointed by trial courts with the consent of parties. Hamid said that there is a huge backlog of cases in both subordinate and superior courts of the country and the Alternate Dispute Resolution can be used as an effective mechanism for settlement of disputes to overcome delays, provide inexpensive justice and reduce tremendous burden on courts.
The committee also discussed ‘The Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2016’ moved by Senator Sassui Palijo and ‘The Constitution Amendment Bill, 2016’ introduced by Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja on behalf of some other senators seeking promotion of regional languages and giving them status of national languages.
Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja said the languages in any part of the world are considered to be a strong tool to transmit the memory from older generation to the newer one. Pakistan has inherited the old civilisations of Mohenjodaro, Taxila, Ghandara, Harappa and Mehar Garh. All these civilisations are greatly spread in the whole country and have their own beauty and expression.
He said the major mother tongues of Pakistan are Balochi, Brahvi, Punjabi, Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki and Hindko, adding these languages have preserved Pakistan’s regional and national history and culture. Palijo was of the view that regional languages need to be given proper recognition as they promote national integration and build a strong federation. She said that a number of movements are going on in the country demanding national status to these languages.-Business Recorder