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Senate approves bill to establish ‘Legal Aid and Justice Authority’

 

ISLAMABAD: Senate’s Standing Committee on Law and Justice on Wednesday approved a bill for the establishment of ‘Legal Aid and Justice Authority’ to provide free legal assistance to needy people, ARY News reported.

The bill was presented by Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem that was approved by the committee’s members during the Wednesday’s session.

Naseem apprised members that the voting was not held over a bill to amend the Code of Civil Procedure. He expressed suspicions that the opposition members would not approve the bill.

He further detailed that the bill to establish an authority will enable the provision of free legal assistance to needy people under the new law.

“The authority will be given powers for paying off lower fines of prisoners and the body will work under the supervision of the Ministry of Human Rights. The ‘Legal Aid and Justice Authority’ will be bound to provide legal assistance in criminal cases,” the law minister said.

Read: Inter-Ministerial Committee discusses legal aid mechanism for poor

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Nafisa Shah informed Naseem that there are more cases registered against women under family and other civil issues. Responding to her argument, Naseem replied that the Centre cannot make any legislation into civil procedure codes as the matter is specifically related to provinces. The bill for amendment in civil procedure code will be restricted for the federal capital Islamabad, he added.

The law minister said, “It is observed that sometimes the verdicts of civil cases take around 40 years to be announced, whereas, investors put conditions for not taking the disputes to court. Stay orders can be grabbed easily in civil cases which delays hearings. The facility of getting stay orders should be given in valid cases only.”

“If a judge is hearing a petition of stay order while other will hear the central case. The amendment will ensure smooth proceedings of cases despite issuance of stay orders. It will also allow filing appeal in a civil case only for one time and judges will be authorised to visit the crime’s spot by themselves. Moreover, a timeframe will be given for each phase of the case including submission of reply in the court.”

Read: Govt to launch campaign to provide women legal aid about inheritance: Mazari

The law minister prayed the standing committee members to approve the bill as the new amendment will shrink the duration of verdicts of civil cases up to 1.5 years. He further said that PPP’s Senator Aitzaz Ahsan has also termed the move as ‘best solution’ for the legal aid facilities to the nationals. He expressed hopes that the latest regulations will be copied by India and the United Kingdom (UK).

Naseem also apprised the standing committee that the representatives of bar councils and judges were also consulted for the legislation while its approval was given by former chief justice.

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