ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly has passed an important legislation aimed at discouraging false and frivolous litigation and unnecessary adjournments in order to ensure speedy justice and avoid dragging of cases in courts.
A brief debate on the issue of mysterious disappearances of bloggers and activists from different parts of the country was the only other significant business undertaken during the dull and poorly attended proceedings of the lower house of parliament on Thursday.
The Costs of Litigation Bill 2016 empowers judges to impose cost of litigations on those seeking adjournment of hearings in both civil and criminal cases on “baseless grounds”. The bill envisages the minimum cost of Rs5,000 per adjournment in civil cases and Rs10,000 in criminal cases.
The bill was passed by the assembly with an amendment suggested by the law and justice committee that “if the court is satisfied that the adjournment being sought is on account of unavoidable reasons beyond the control of the party concerned, which reasons shall be recorded by the court, the court may grant adjournment without imposing adjournment costs.”
Another clause of the bill says: “If in any proceedings, the court finds that any averment made by any party is false or vexatious to the knowledge of such party, the court shall award special costs to the opposite party against whom such averment has been made.”
The bill, however, provides indemnity to the government as it says that “the government shall not be liable to the costs”.
Piloting the bill, Law Minister Zahid Hamid said the government had introduced this “very important” legislation on an “experimental basis” with the hope that it would bring positive results in ensuring speedy justice. He was of the opinion that after the enforcement of the law, everyone would think twice before seeking adjournment of hearings in courts.
The minister said that for the time being the law would only apply to Islamabad Capital Territory, but hoped the provincial assemblies would also bring such legislations.
Shafqat Mehmood and Dr Arif Alvi of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) termed the bill “a positive step”, but suggested some amendments.
Dr Alvi was of the view that the bill should have a mention of the number of adjournments which could be sought in a case, whereas Mr Mehmood objected to a provision in the law which gives indemnity to the public servants.
However, the law minister asked the legislators not to press for amendments, saying the government would keep the law under review.
Speaking on a matter of public importance, Dr Nafeesa Shah of the Pakistan Peoples Party drew the attention of the house to the mysterious disappearances and resurfacing of bloggers. She criticised Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan’s reported statement that the whereabouts of the missing persons were not known to the government.
The PPP MNA demanded that the interior minister brief the house on the efforts he had made for the recovery of the bloggers. She also expressed concern over the “accusations” of blasphemy on these bloggers and asked the government to take action under the cyber crime law against those using social media for this campaign.
Chaudhry Bashir Virk of the Pakistan Muslim League-N came out with a strange notion that there was a possibility that these bloggers might have staged a drama and created the situation under a planned scheme. He said it was strange that the bloggers themselves asked their families to collect their cars from a certain place and then they returned one by one.
Without implicating the bloggers, Mr Virk, who is also the chairman of the law and justice committee of the house, said that those who committed blasphemy or spoke against the armed forces would have to face the public wrath.
PTI’s Dr Shireen Mazari criticised the government for its silence over the controversial order of President Donald Trump banning people from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. She regretted that while non-Muslim countries, including the UK, were protesting against the move, Pakistan had preferred silence.
courtesy : dawn news