At a recent meeting between the top civilian and
military leadership, the issue of increasing number of
terrorists securing easy acquittals from courts, mainly in the
absence of evidence, came up and it was decided to conduct a
complete review of the law of evidence, the Dawn newspaper
quoted its sources as saying.
The meeting decided to review all laws related to
handling of terrorists, in particular the law of evidence.
These laws should be carefully studied and loopholes
identified for amendment, the sources were quoted as saying.
Where there was a need for additions or a new law,
the matter must be decided on a priority basis by the Law
Ministry, the report said.
The military was "particularly worried" about
terrorists who had been arrested since the launch of army
operations in Malakand division in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province
and the tribal areas only to be eventually acquitted by
courts, the report said.
However, Supreme Court lawyer Zafarullah Khan found
"little wisdom" in the suggestion to amend the law of evidence
which was in practise in several countries and being
Acknowledging the alarmingly low rate of conviction
for terrorists, including some caught red handed by law
enforcement agencies, Khan said the problem was not with the
contents of the law of of evidence but with the prosecution
department of police.
This is a countrywide problem and not restricted to
any particular province and area, he said.
Khan was a prosecution lawyer in the murder case of
former army general Ameer Faisal Alvi, killed in Islamabad in
The accused in that case were set free for lack of
He said that in the wake of increasing terrorist
attacks, law enforcement agencies were facing problems at
three different levels in securing judgements against
It was difficult to find an eyewitness in cases of
suicide bombing or other terrorist activities, he said.
A witness is considered an irrefutable piece of
evidence but witnesses preferred to "stay away for fear of
reprisals from terrorist organisations", he added.
In cases where there are joint investigation teams
comprising police, the Federal Investigation Agency and
intelligence agencies, the law enforces find causes of, and
leads to a certain incident but provide little help in
prosecuting the accused.
In the Marriot bombing case and in another case of
an attack on a mosque in Rawalpindi, courts had to acquit the
accused for lack of evidence, said Khan.
Police complete their investigation but do not
collect adequate evidence from the court?s point of view, he
"As a result, an accused easily manages to secure a
favourable judgement," he added.
The failure of prosecution by police was
substantiated by a Supreme Court official involved in
monitoring provincial anti-terrorism courts.
The official, who spoke to the daily on condition of
anonymity, said that in a majority of cases in
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, police provided only one-page statements.
In some cases, even FIRs were found missing, the
Hence, criticism of the judiciary for failing to
convict terrorists is highly misplaced, he said.
There was a need to review not only the law of
evidence but the entire legal set-up created in 1997 by then
premier Nawaz Sharif to counter terrorist activities.
Islamabad: Pakistani military authorities
have expressed serious concern over the "dismally low rate of
terrorists' conviction" by courts across the country and asked
the government to see if some changes can be made in relevant
laws, according to a media report on Monday.
First Published: Monday, June 13, 2011, 18:55