Published Date: Jan 23, 2018
Extension of court’s jurisdiction; Bill passed by NA has some serious anomalies, says PPP’s Farhatullah Babar
Senator Farhatullah Babar has said that the Bill recently passed by the National Assembly and sent to the Senate contained some serious anomalies which he said he will seek to rectify by moving amendments.
He said this while speaking at a seminar on the subject organized by the sustainable policy development institute (SDPI) here on Monday, says a press release.
First, he said, the extension of court’s jurisdiction will be contingent upon a government notification even after its enactment. An official notification cannot supersede the will of the Parliament, he said adding ‘the Parliament also should not give its powers into the hands of the bureaucracy’, he said.
He recalled that just like Fata the superior courts initially also did not have jurisdiction over the provincially administered tribal areas (Pata) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including Chitral, Dir, Swat, and Malakand.
However, in 1973 this jurisdiction was extended though an Act of the Parliament to the provincially administered tribal areas immediately without requiring government notification, he said and asked why it was designed differently now?
Is the purpose political point scoring and not giving the people their fundamental rights?
Secondly, the court’s jurisdiction will be extended to selected tribal areas in piecemeal and asked as to why it must be extended to villages and tehsils only and not to the entire region.
The people of tribal areas have waited for 70 long years to get access to justice and fundamental rights and now through this dubious mechanism they will be deprived of their rights for another half a century, he said. He demanded immediate application of the law to the whole of Fata.
He said that piecemeal notifications of extending superior court’s jurisdiction will give rise to suspicions that it is being done to create an opening for Shakil Afridi’s release under foreign pressure.
He said he was not against Afridi’s release because he was not sentenced for facilitating operation against OBL but sentenced under FCR for an entirely unrelated alleged offence of helping Mengal Bagh.
He rejected the objections of JUI (F) and PkMAP against the Bill as being unconstitutional. He said Article 175 (2) and 247 (7) both provided that legislation could be made by Parliament for extending jurisdiction of superior courts to a tribal area.
He said that after necessary amendments the legislation will be a giant leap forward in securing fundamental rights of people of tribal areas and for dismantling the colonial era notorious FCR.
Article 1 says Tribal areas are part of the territories of Pakistan. As such the people of Fata should have the same fundamental rights as are available to people of other parts of the country.
The PHC in 2014 had asked that the jurisdiction of superior court be extended to tribal areas. The provincial Assembly of KPK passed unanimous resolutions to this effect. Fundamental rights cannot be abridged even by the Parliament, he said.