Saturday, July 30
Punjab awaits Centre’s nod for previous ‘police’
The Punjab government is awaiting Centre’s nod for restoring its much-yearned executive magistracy and the pre-2001 police system, which seems to be improbable since the federal government is so far disinclined to actualise the necessary formality of amending the Criminal Procedure Code 1898, while the provincial dispensation has to amend three other laws.
On the other hand, the federal government is less likely to amend the CrPC because it would be against the principle of separation of the judiciary from the executive. “This is so because the constitution of Pakistan does not allow any judicial powers to be vested in non-judicial officers, and supposedly, the judiciary will also hinder this,” observed a senior PPP parliamentarian, seeking anonymity. He further asserted that because of this, the Punjab government would not be able to restore the executive magistracy. “Otherwise, if it is done, the principle of separating the judiciary from the executive will be compromised,” he observed, mentioning that the Lahore High Court had given ruling on this as well.
As per sources, the provincial dispensation has despatched the amended draft of the CrPC 1898, but the federal government is keeping it under the lock and key. The major reason for this was considered to be the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which rejected it from the word go. Nevertheless, the Punjab government is said to have not pressed the Centre for getting it done at any stage.
Even former Chief Minister Punjab Ch Pervaiz Elahi, despite being close to the then President General (retd) Pervez Musharraf, made a failed attempt at partial restoration of the executive magistracy, primarily aiming at securing powers to check prices of edibles.
So far the Punjab government has restored the Commissionerate System by amending the Punjab Land Revenue Act 1967, and abolished over 550 slots, creating offices of the revenue officers and giving powers to them as well. It is yet to abolish the office of the District Nazim and District Coordination Officer replacing them with the Mayor and Deputy Commissioner respectively. However, the provincial government can restore the office of the Deputy Commissioners but it would be sans judicial powers, and would have only the revenue powers.
It is widely believed that the Punjab government might not be that highly-motivated to act quickly since it does not have political compulsions, like that of the Sindh government, following the party line, holding the federal fort.
Now because of the recent steps of the Sindh government, there exists a vacuum in the provincial administration since the link of the executive magistracy is missing, and it is certainly correct politically due to the reason that it wanted to cause to its estranged ally MQM. So, Sindh political dispensation has dismantled the local governance system altogether reverting to Ziaul Haq's system put in place in 1979 and reverted all police reforms and has gone back to colonial system in pace in 1861.
However, Balochistan, in total disregard to law, has already restored executive magistracy by amending the CrPC, which is certainly a federal subject, which is a violation of the Articles 142 and 143, as these ordain that the amendments in the CrPC could only be done by the federal government.
The question is: Why has the centre not issued an ordinance, encompassing amendments in the CrPC? This would certainly give legal cover to the Balochistan arbitrary act, and provide a chance to the Sindh province to restore executive magistracy.
Succinctly, ‘advisors’ to the governments must very well understand that the much-praised previous district administration was run through a balanced combination of four laws, that is, the Police Act 1861, the Local Government Ordinance (repeatedly amended), the Land Revenue Act 1879 (though ‘adapted’ by Pakistan), and the Criminal Procedure Code 1898. These are considered to be the four pillars of the district administration, and without synchronising amendments and laws, no effective system can be evolved.