The Cabinet in its meeting held on 4th September, 2013 at Karachi constituted “ a Committee headed by Mr Zahid Hamid, Federal Minister for Science and Technology comprising Kh Zaheer Ahmed, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Prosecutor General, Sindh, and Mr Farogh Naseem, Senator to make recommendations with regard to the following:
(a) Legislative measures to enhance the effectiveness of the Law Enforcing Agencies in tackling heinous crime, especially conferring powers of investigation on Rangers, providing legal cover to Joint Investigation Teams (JITs), enabling police to become complainants in extortion (bhatta) cases, and special (provisions) for protection of witnesses (faceless) through video recording;
(b) Measures to ensure effective prosecution of criminal cases.
(c) Review of the Summary for Cabinet submitted by the Inter Provincial Coordination Division on 7th August, 2013 titled “Amendment in the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 for restoration of Executive Magistracy” with reference to pending legislation in the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the Balochistan case.”
2. Meeting of Committee were held on 9th and 11th September, 2013. The Committee’s Report, containing its decisions/ recommendations is attached as Annex-I.
3. Major recommendations contained in the Report relating to amendments in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 are as follows:
(a) Additional powers for Rangers
(i) Where the armed forces/ civil armed forces have been called in aid of civil power, they will be empowered, by specific or general order of the Federal or Provincial Government, to issue order for preventive detention upto three months, of any person concerned in any offence under the ATA relating to the security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, or public order including target killing, kidnapping for ransom, and extortion/ bhatta, or the maintenance of supplies and services, for the purpose of inquiry. The inquiry will be conducted by a Joint Investigation Team, including members of the armed forces/ civil armed forces and intelligence agencies.
(ii) An accused apprehended by the armed forces/ civil armed forces shall be handed over to the Investigating Officer of the police station designated by the Provincial Government for the purpose in each District.
(iii) Where the armed forces/ civil armed forces have been called in aid of civil power, the Joint Investigation Team shall invariably be constituted for the investigation of the related offence.
(iv) The Investigating Officer (from police) shall invariably be a member of the JIT and the challan shall be signed and submitted by him to the Court.
(b) Protection of witnesses, Judges and Prosecutors
(i) Screens may be used during trial to shield witnesses, Judges and Prosecutors from public view;
(ii) Trial may be held in the jail premises or through video link;
(iii) Investigation and trial may be held in a Province other than the Province in which the offence was committed.
(iv) The Provincial Governments will take necessary steps to ensure that prisoners in jails do not have access to mobile phones; and
(v) Witness Protection Programmes may be established by the Government, either bylaw or rules.
(c) Measures for expeditious disposal of cases
(i) The Court will conduct pre-trial scrutiny to identity issues and direct the prosecution to complete all preliminary formalities so that unnecessary delay is eliminated and the actual trial proceeds uninterrupted from day-do-day;
(ii) The Court shall not allow more than two adjournments, and that too on imposition of exemplary costs;
(iii) Where the case is not decided within thirty days, the matter shall be brought to the notice of the Chief Justice of the High Court concerned for appropriate directions. (At present the Court is required to decide the case within 7 days failing which an application may be made to the Administrative Judge of the High Court for appropriate directions.) Non-compliance may render the judge liable to disciplinary action by the concerned High Court; and
(iv) Incentive system will be introduced in the Provinces providing for appropriate rewards to Investigating Officers who conduct effective and efficient investigation and prosecutors who conduct successful prosecution.
3. The Law, Justice and Human Rights Division has prepared a draft Bill amending the Anti-terrorist Act, 1997 in the light of the above-mentioned recommendations of the Committee. On a Summary submitted by the Minister for Science & Technology (the Convenor of the Committee) the Prime Minister has desired that provision regard conviction solely on the basis of electronic and forensic evidence should be included in the draft Bill and the Bill should be placed before the Cabinet (Annex-II).
4. The draft Bill (Annex-III) is according placed before the Cabinet for consideration and approval. Comparative Statement is placed at Annex-IV.