The Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice was held on Tuesday. Chaired by Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi, the meeting was attended by Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Senator Mian Raza Rabbani, Senator Muzafar Hussain Shah, Senator Ghous Muhammad Khan Niazi, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Walid Iqbal, Senator Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, Senator Krishna Kumari, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Prof. Dr Mehr Taj Roghani and senior officers from the Ministry of Law and Justice, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Human Rights. The Minster for Human Rights Ms. Shireen Mazari was also present in the meeting.
The agenda before the Committee consisted of the Cost of Litigation Act 2017, progress made towards the establishment of Alternate Dispute Resolution Act 2017, briefing on establishment of additional benches of the High Courts, details of cases pending in the High Courts and the Supreme Judicial Council against the judicial officers and Honourable Judges of the High Courts and Supreme Courts respectively. The Committee also discussed cases/references filed and disposed by the Supreme Judicial Council during the last 10 years.
The meeting commenced with discussion on Cost of Litigation Act 2017. Chairman Committee, Senator Muhammad Javed Abbasi enquired about the feedback that the Ministry of Law and Justice had received. The Committee was informed that the Ministry did not possess any data on the basis of number of cases that had been expedited. The Ministry further pointed out that one of the infirmities of the Act was lack of exercise of jurisdiction of judges.
Regarding the establishment of Alternate Dispute Resolution Centres under Alternate resolution Act, 2017 the Chairman showed displeasure that Neutrals could not be appointed due to lack of consultation between the government and the High Court. The Committee gave 10 days to the Secretary of Law to initiate the process of consultation and propose a panel of neutrals to implement the ADR Law.
The Committee reviewed the legal status of the Black List and in terms of the briefing given by DG FIA and DG passports found out that the Black List has no legal status. The Minister for Human Rights categorized the list as a violation of the fundamental rights especially Article 15 of the Constitution. Hence, all members present declared the Black List utra vires of the law and directed the Ministry of Interior to abolish the said list within 10 days and submit compliance report before the Senate.
While deliberating over the issue of establishment of additional benches of the High Courts, details of cases pending in the High Courts the Law Ministry has been directed to take up the matter with the Governorsfor consultation amongst stakeholders.