ISLAMABAD   -  Cabinet Committee for the Disposal of Legislative Cases (CCLC) has recommended the enhancement of punishments for offences of forgery for the purpose of cheating, committing theft, cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property and criminal trespass.

According to the proposed legislation in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), punishment under sections 379, 420, 441, 447 and 468 of PPC is being enhanced.

The proposed legislation for enhancement of punishment in the above said offences is the part of seven draft bills which were recommended for placement before the Federal Cabinet.

The proposed Criminal Law Reforms Bill, one of the seven proposed bills, ensures speedy and expeditious justice.

According to the proposed bill, an accused arrested would be informed of the grounds of arrest and the hearing of the case shall continue from day-to-day until the completion of the evidence unless adjournment is necessary.

According to the proposed bill, the court shall encourage and facilitate settlement of compoundable offences through mediation and conciliation.

In order to bring reforms in criminal and civil laws, the CCLC also recommended the placement of six other draft bills before the Federal Cabinet. The recommendations were made during CCLC’s meeting with Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr. Farogh Naseem in the chair.

The draft bills, prepared by the Ministry of Law and Justice, include Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, The Service Tribunals (Amendment) Bill, The Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, Whistleblower Protection and Vigilance Commission Bill, The Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill, and The Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill.

A new concept of two-tier system has been proposed in The Code of Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill. In the first tier, the main case would be heard by one judge without interruption till the finalization of the proceeding while stay and other miscellaneous applications in the main case would be heard in the second tier by the other judge.

According to the ministry, the primary objective is to simplify procedure to save expense and time of both the courts and the litigants.

Appeals before departmental authorities preferred by civil servants are usually not decided and aggrieved civil servants are required to wait for such decision for a statutory period of ninety days whereafter they can prefer appeal before the Federal Service Tribunal.

This causes delay for redressal of grievances of the civil servants. Moreover, persons who are not civil servants but serving on civil posts in connection with affairs of the Federation are not entitled to make their grievances redressed through the Federal Service Tribunal and they invoke jurisdiction of High Courts under Article 199 of the Constitution whereby workload of High Courts has increased manifold.

It is essentially required to omit the period of said ninety days and provide for an original division and appellate division of the Federal Service Tribunal enabling an aggrieved civil servant to file his first appeal before the original division. If a civil servant still aggrieved, he may prefer second appeal before the appellate division of the Tribunal.

Similarly, a person other than a civil servant should have the remedy to agitate his terms and conditions of service before the Tribunal instead of a High Court.

The proposed Service Tribunals (Amendment) Bill aims to redress grievances of the civil servants as well as for reducing the workload on the High Courts

Likewise, under the proposed Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill, the requirement to file suit before civil courts is replaced with the NADRA.

Without languishing in courts, the citizens will obtain letters of administration for immovable properties and succession certificates for movable properties within 15 days.

Through enactment of this proposed legislation, wherever, NADRA has a record of a citizen on NADRA Database, and there is no dispute amongst the legal heirs, it may, after inviting public objections in newspapers, issue letters of administration and succession certificates within 15 days, without the need of approaching courts.

According to ministry, the object of proposed Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill is to establish a legal and institutional framework to promote access to justice by providing affordable, accessible and credible legal aid, financial or other services to the poor and vulnerable section of the society in criminal matters.

This will also help to promote legal awareness, education and public awareness of the legal aid system. The Bill gives priority to disadvantaged women and children, especially in matters of sexual offences. Apart from the provision of legal aid, the Bill also facilitates the extension of financial facilities such as provision of bail, fine and penalty amounts to the poor.

The said draft bills will be placed before the Federal Cabinet and following the approval are likely to be tabled in the next session of the parliament.