ISLAMABAD: On Tuesday, the absence of a permanent law secretary came to the notice of the Supreme Court when it asked why it was not streamlining the federal law department.
“We note that there is no permanent secretary law, and instead of pursuing ad hocism, the government should appoint a proper law secretary with career posting immediately,” ordered Pakistan’s Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, adding that this will allow the law department to work properly with consistency.
The court expects that 30 additional accountability courts will be functional within one month
The order came when a three-judge bench noted that acting Law Secretary Raja Naeem Akbar had signed a report submitted to the Supreme Court concerning the establishment of 30 additional accountability courts in the country.
In the world, 24 oversight courts are currently operating.
Additional Attorney General Sohail Mehmood acknowledged before the bench that the officer was serving as an acting law secretary when the court asked whether or not Raja Akbar, who had signed the paper, was a permanent secretary.
Last year, Justice Mushir Alam urged the chief justice to form a special bench and begin suo motu proceedings over the delay in charging the accused in the trial courts when the suo motu proceedings were launched.
On 8 July, the Supreme Court directed the Secretary of Law to urgently seek directions to set up at least 120 accountability courts to clear an immense backlog of cases after it became clear that more than 1,226 outstanding references have been pending since 2000.
On July 23, the federal government told the Supreme Court that it will take a whopping Rs2.86 billion per year to administer and set up 120 new accountability courts in the country as demanded by the high court, adding that it would take a massive sum of Rs23.87 million annually to retain only one such court.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Law told the High Court that Prime Minister Imran Khan had already released a directive setting up 30 additional accountability courts in the first process, and that approval had already been given by the Finance Division in this respect.
The procurement process for the selection of judges for the 30 additional courts of accountability is most likely to be informed by January 11, pending approval by the Cabinet’s Economic Coordination Committee of the additional grants during this week.
The chief justice said the court wanted the additional accountability courts to be functioning within a month, and the court should be provided with a report signed by a permanent law secretary in this regard.
Referring to the fate of the reference against Chairman of Fateh Textile Mills Gohar Ullah Khan, pending before the Karachi Accountability Court since 2016, Prosecutor General of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Syed Asghar Haider told the court that the testimony of 18 witnesses had been documented and cross-examined out of a list of 29 witnesses, while four more witnesses had been recorded and cross-examined.
The NAB prosecutor general told the court that on January 6 the recording of the testimony of the witnesses would be completed, adding that seven or eight witnesses could be provided up by the anti-graft watchdog. He also told the bench that attempts will be made during this month to ensure that the case was resolved.
The court expressed confidence that within the current month, the accountability judge, Sindh, seized with the reference, would finish the trial expeditiously.