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CJP terms false testimony key flaw in criminal justice system

Updated July 20, 2019

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Police investigation officers warned that they can be tried as accomplices in perjury if they bring false witnesses. — Dawn.com/File
Police investigation officers warned that they can be tried as accomplices in perjury if they bring false witnesses. — Dawn.com/File

KARACHI: Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa said on Friday that false testimony was one of the key flaws in the criminal justice system which no longer would be acceptable, adding that since the apex court had become strict about the issue, about 15 “eyewitnesses” of murder cases were being tried for committing perjury in courts in different parts of the country.

Speaking on justice sector reforms at a ceremony at the Sindh police headquarters, Central Police Office, he warned investigating officers that they could also face consequences if they knowingly brought false witnesses before the courts as they could be tried as accomplices in perjury.

“Since we decided to take up this challenge, I think till now some 15 eyewitnesses of the murder cases are being tried for committing perjury in the courts of law in different parts of Pakistan,” the chief justice said. “The next step will be about those investigating officers who know that the witnesses are false. Why do they put their names in challans as eyewitnesses? They share responsibility. They will be prosecuted as the accomplices of such perjury and we will not spare them.”

Police investigation officers warned that they can be tried as accomplices in perjury if they bring false witnesses before courts

He called this part of his speech a “warning” for all the investigating officers in the country that falsehood would not be tolerated.

Chief Justice Khosa was elaborating “two key flaws” in the criminal justice system: falsehood and delays.

“Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus: false in one respect, false in all respects,” he quoted a Latin phrase to reinforce his point of view. “So if a witness tells a lie in one respect then the entire testimony of the witness will be discarded... We have changed the law. We have given the judgements and very strong judgements. I fortunately was the author of these judgements. It may take some time but once the message goes across that false testimony will not be acceptable, it would serve in longer term.”

Earlier, Chief Justice Khosa along with Justice Gulzar Ahmed chaired a meeting of the police reforms committee at the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry. The police chiefs of the four provinces along with retired IGs Afzal Shigri, Dr Shoaib Suddle, Tariq Parvez and Tariq Khosa attended the meeting.

“The secretary of the Law and Justice Commission presented progress of the public complaints redress mechanism whereby more than 77,000 public complaints were attended by SPs complaints in all the districts out of which more than 57,000 were redressed to the satisfaction of the complainants. The chief justice expressed satisfaction and asked for more effective public awareness of the new system in place,” said an official statement.

The meeting was told that the number of applications before the district courts against police had been reduced by 11 per cent and that of petitions against the law-enforcement agency in the high courts had come down by more than 20pc.

Published in Dawn, July 20th, 2019