ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Engineering Council (PEC) has proposed establishment of specialised tribunals and courts to settle disputes in mega engineering projects for a ‘real change’ in the judicial system and swift dispensation of justice in the country.
The PEC, a statutory body which acts as the primary regulatory body of engineers and all registered engineering firms in the country, has sent the proposal to the prime minister for approval.
According to the proposal, the council believes that a network of specialised engineering tribunals and courts will help reduce the burden of cases on the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in investigation and adjudication of allegations of defaults in engineering contracts that will resultantly alleviate the fear on business community and investors.
Proposed step may reduce burden on NAB, FIA
The PEC also noted that the regular courts and investigation agencies, where technical cases relating to engineering contracts were being tried and investigated, have no know-how of engineering and technical issues, thus they were unable to adjudicate and investigate effectively causing ‘injustice’ and delay in disposal of cases and its multi-dimensional adverse impact.
“We have sent the proposal of establishing specialised engineering tribunals and courts to Prime Minister Imran Khan and the recently elected PEC chairman, who is also the MNA of ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and will soon meet the premier to seek approval of the proposal by the federal cabinet,” Engineer Mohammad Wasim Asghar, who is a member of the PEC governing body and President of All Consulting Engineers of Pakistan told Dawn on Sunday.
He said once such engineering tribunals and courts were set up, mega white-collar crime cases of the National Highway Authority, Water and Power Development Authority, Pakistan Railways, Civil Aviation Authority/Pakistan International Airlines, housing and works and civic bodies could be shifted to theses court from accountability and other courts.
Pakistan’s judicial system has at present a list of different specialised courts, including anti-corruption courts, anti-terrorism courts, anti-narcotics courts, labour relations courts, family courts, consumer courts, drug courts, banking courts, services tribunal, income tax tribunal, board of revenue, special magistrates, and juvenile courts. Almost all judges of these courts and tribunals are said to be judges of district and sessions courts of having same qualifications.
However, Mr Asghar said once cases are decided by specialised courts there would be less burden of appeals on higher courts as in that case the litigants would be satisfied with the decisions.
He said it was imperative that these tribunals and courts should be presided over by qualified engineers and technical experts from the relevant fields. He said that appeals arising out of such tribunals and courts shall be adjudicated by the high courts.
The PEC chairman said neither the investigation agencies like NAB and FIA nor the regular civil courts have know-how to understand technical issues in mega corruption cases related to construction of highways, bridges, dams, railways and PIA matters being probed by the two agencies. “Therefore, these agencies sometimes hire consultants and experts to understand technicalities in such cases,” he added.
“But when specialised engineering tribunals and courts will be established, the adjudicating officers/judges of the courts and tribunals would have a panel of technical experts to assist,” he added.
Published in Dawn, September 20th, 2021