IHC lambastes criminal justice system.


Byline: Malik Asad

ISLAMABAD -- In an astonishing observation, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has said the existing criminal justice system 'fails to prevent and prosecute crime' as the system is 'perpetuating miscarriages of justice and... appears to be on the brink of collapse'.

Chief Justice Athar Minallah made the observation on Monday, when he acquitted the accused in seven different murder cases. In most of the cases the accused remained behind bars for about 10 years.

In its verdict, the court said: 'Before parting, we feel morally and professionally obliged to record our observations regarding the alarming and abysmal state of the criminal justice system in the Islamabad Capital Territory. The case in hand is only the tip of the iceberg because in most of the cases serious crimes go unpunished.

'The purpose of the criminal justice system ought to be to punish the guilty so that crime could be effectively controlled.'

Holds all pillars of state responsible for the pathetic state of affairs

The high court went on to say: 'We have no hesitation in stating that in the current circumstances this faith [on criminal justice system] would be totally misguided. Notwithstanding and conceding the weaknesses and shortcomings of the judicial branch, it is dependent on the integrity, quality and professionalism of the other most important stakeholder, i.e. the police, the prison authorities and the prosecution.

'Whether due to corruption, complacency or sheer incompetence and lack of professionalism, the criminal justice system is definitely not serving its purpose; rather it is perpetuating miscarriages of justice and appears to have become a source of grave injustice,' the order read.

'In the case in hand, incompetence, outdated and obsolete techniques used for investigating the gruesome murder and, prima facie, lack of probity and professionalism, are floating on the surface of the record,' the court observed.

'Regretfully, this is not an isolated case, but a general pattern observed in most of the cases. It has been observed that, invariably, the investigating officers either appear to be complacent, compromised or totally incompetent.'

The court noted that 'the low-paid investigating officer does not have sufficient resources to visit the crime scene when a crime is reported, let alone transporting the sealed samples and arranging the payment of the fee to the official laboratory for conducting chemical examinations. It is not a secret that...

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