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Unnecessary delay in court proceedings amounted to denial of justice: SC

05 March, 2017

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LAHORE: The country's top court on Saturday stated that unnecessary delay in court proceedings amounted to "denial of justice". These remarks were made to give a wake-up call to the prosecution department over inordinate delays in trials of capital punishment cases.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, stated that inordinate delay in many cases becomes a cause of frustration for both the accused and the aggrieved complainant party, and in some cases the aggrieved party ordinarily takes the law into their own hand by indulging in acts of retribution.

This resulted in unrest and sparked intolerance in society, which ultimately would have negative impacts on the performance of the government as a whole, the bench added.

Furthermore, the bench said that the investigators and prosecutors, consisting of large fleets who are being sustained and maintained at the cost of taxpayers' money, should diligently perform their statutory duties; otherwise they "will be guilty of violating the mandatory statutory provision of the Criminal Procedure Code, the constitution and law relating to the prosecution branch.

"It is a universal principle of law that having a speedy trial is the right of every accused person, therefore, unnecessary delays in legal proceedings of such cases would amount to the denial of justice," the bench held.

The court went on to say, "Many years back, the government with the aim to put the criminal justice system into the correct channels, bifurcated the police force to preventive and detective, investigation and prosecution wings".

The establishment of the same dearly cost the public exchequer because enormous budget was allocated for this purpose at the federal and provincial levels, the bench said. "However, such a costly exercise could not improve the system because the supervising officers of these wings of the police are uninterested in streamlining the working of each wing - in an efficient and effective manner - and to comply with the mandatory provisions of law," the bench remarked.

"Even today, chargesheets and submission of challans before the competent courts in criminal cases are delayed for no plausible reason," the bench held, adding that even interim challans were not submitted within the statutory period.

"This conduct and attitude, as well as the performance of investigating, prosecution and detective agencies, are absolutely unacceptable," the bench held. Some of the witnesses either vanish after being killed by opponents or meeting a natural death, or relocate, the bench remarked.

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