24th constitution amendment bill tabled NA ISLAMABAD: In a significant move in terms of dispensation of justice, the government on Friday introduced in the National Assembly the 24th constitution amendment bill seeking for the right of appeal in suo motu notices taken by the Supreme Court.
Two other bills and an ordinance were also introduced on the first day of the fresh NA session seeking imposition of cost of litigation to prevent false and vexatious cases, providing for an alternative justice system and empowering the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to deal with money laundering cases and promote joint ventures to attract more foreign investments.
Although no discussion took place on the proposed 24th amendment bill, Speaker Ayaz Sadiq gave consent for its introduction in the house.
The bill introduced by Law Minister Zahid Hamid states: “At present there is no provision for appeal against the orders of the Supreme Court in exercise of its original jurisdiction under clause (3) of Article 184 of the Constitution. Since such an order invokes a question of public importance with reference to enforcement of fundamental rights conferred by chapter I of part II, an aggrieved party should have the right of appeal, which shall also be in conformity with the fundamental right to fair trial and due process conferred by Article 10A of the Constitution.”
It said the proposed amendment provided for an appeal within 30 days of an order of the Supreme Court under Clause (3) of Article 184. The appeal to be filed by the aggrieved party shall be heard by a bench larger than the one which had passed the order.
Bill seeks right of appeal in suo motu notices taken by Supreme Court
Since it is a constitutional amendment bill, the government is required to get it passed by a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly which is not possible without the support of the opposition members.
Talking to Dawn, Pakistan Peoples Party’s senior leader Naveed Qamar said his party would fully support the government in the passage of the bill. “Right of appeal in suo motu cases was also a demand of the PPP and we will support it,” he added.
“In fact the present bill originated from a bill earlier proposed by our party leader Ayaz Soomro, but the government was of the view that the issue could not be addressed through Mr Soomro’s simple bill because it required amendment to the Constitution,” he said.
Bill to prevent false cases
The law minister introduced another bill seeking amendments to the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 and the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 to prevent tendency of filing false cases by imposing cost of litigation to those who file false cases.
The bill says: “The tendency of filing false and vexatious cases and taking baseless grounds for defence is unfortunately on the rise and this tendency leads to numerous evils, including heavy expenditure incurred by the affected parties, causing them financial loss and mental torture, apart from wasting precious time of the courts. It is, therefore, necessary to empower courts to impose costs to discourage false and frivolous litigation and unnecessary adjournments.
“It is proposed to make amendments in the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 for this purpose. Amendments are also being proposed in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 to provide for imposition of adjournment costs in criminal cases.”
Alternative dispute resolution
The third bill introduced by the law minister seeks an alternative dispute resolution system to facilitate settlement of disputes without resort to formal litigation. The bill suggests methods of alternative dispute resolution, including conciliation, arbitration, mediation and Panchayat.
“There is a huge backlog of cases in both superior courts of the country and it is therefore necessary to find simpler and faster alternatives which supplement the traditional legal system. As litigation is a very lengthy and expensive process, there is a trend to adopt alternative dispute resolution system,” the bill says.
Amendment to companies act
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar tabled in the lower house a recently promulgated Companies Ordinance 2016 for amendment to the Companies Act to facilitate joint ventures to attract foreign investment and empower the SECP to deal with money laundering cases.
“We have amended the 32-year-old law regarding companies to make proper documentation,” he said.
Under the law, the government will be able to get information about all offshore companies which were also operating in Pakistan.
The minister said the ordinance was being enforced from Friday and now the SECP would deal with money laundering cases, instead of the Federal Investigation Agency.
The ordinance will be discussed in the National Assembly’s standing committee on finance for further improvement.
The house discussed the Gadani ship-breaking yard fire tragedy in which 26 people lost their lives on Nov 1. Minister for Ports and Shipping Hasil Bazenjo informed the house that there was no law in the country to deal with the ship-breaking industry and for the first time a law was being enacted in this regard. The law was being prepared by a committee comprising federal and provincial secretaries, he added.
Members from both the treasury and opposition benches called for safety of workers in the ship-breaking industry and demanded early payment of compensation to the victims of the Gadani incident.
Issues relating to electricity shortages in Hyderabad and Larkana and poor civic condition of Karachi were also taken up by the house, which was prorogued till Monday.