Following the age-old legal dictum, article 10-A of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan guarantees “fair trial and due process” (as justice hurried is justice buried) while article 37 of the Constitution promises “inexpensive and expeditious justice” (as justice delayed is justice denied). The criminal justice system of the country is said to have been suffering from the chronic malaise of inordinate delays and poor conviction rates. Causes are manifold but invariably attributed to endemic system issues like archaic Police & Judiciary Procedures, Overburdened Courts (2 Million pending Court Cases coupled with absence of case management system), inadequate physical and human infrastructure, overcrowded prisons, lack of use of modern forensic investigation tools for procurement of evidence and witness protection programs (especially in terrorism cases).
Reform Commissions & NACTA Mandate:
The existing criminal justice system hence needed reforms to modernize it once again, it was strongly felt by the practitioners and intelligentsia alike. It has been reformed in the past by different commissions like Justice S. A. Rehman Law Reform Commission 1958 or Commission on Reform of Law 1993 which, inter-alia, had observed that weak prosecution and flawed investigation were the main reasons for low conviction rate of criminals. The revamping of Criminal Justice System was therefore included in National Action Plan (NAP 2014) to counter terrorism as it Agenda Item No. 20 (please see National Action Plan 2014). NACTA, vide section 4-(c), NACTA Act 2013 also has an inherent mandate to develop action plans to counter terrorism and extremism and also periodically report to the Federal Government about the implementation of these plans. NACTA was therefore tasked with the implementation of ‘Revamping the Criminal Justice System’.
Core-Groups Formulation Model:
Pursuant to the task of ‘Revamping the Criminal Justice System’, NACTA convened a meeting on 26th May, 2016 which was attended by Secretary Interior, National Coordinator (NC) NACTA, Chief Secretaries, and Inspectors General of Police from all the provinces, GB & AJ&K. Through consensus, a road-map, as proposed by NC NACTA, was agreed, to proceed further and develop recommendations for re-vamping criminal justice system. As per road-map delineated in the meeting, two working groups i.e. Federal Core Group and Provincial Core Group (Cross functional with specialized sub-Groups) were notified. NACTA also developed work plans to coordinate with all provincial stakeholders to make their recommendations more inclusive, practicable and implementable through following subgroups:-
Federal Working Group, which then thoroughly studied the recommendations of provinces and developed sector wise recommendations classified into law reforms, administrative reforms, organizational reforms, capacity building and budget rationalization.
Recommendations of the Federal Core Group for Revamping of Criminal Justice System (RCJS), its implementation plan along with responsibility, timelines and cost elements, sector-wise (Police, Prosecution, Probation and Parole, Judiciary and Prisons) developed through consensus and in coordination with Ministries of Interior, Law and Justice, provinces, ICT, GB and AJK.
Implementation by Provinces:
During Interior Minister’s meeting with provincial Chief Ministers on 23rd August 2017, it was decided to forward the recommendations on RCJS to provinces, vide 18th Constitutional Amendment, so that they could initiate its implementation process. NACTA accordingly sent this document to provinces in August 2017.