Cabinet okays Rs5bn for census, draft changes to criminal procedure law

Published January 26, 2022
A meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID
A meeting of the federal cabinet in Islamabad on Tuesday. — PID

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved the allocation of Rs5 billion for conducting of seventh national population census in the country, which is expected to be completed by December this year.

The cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan also approved a draft of legal reforms, making it mandatory for courts to wrap up criminal cases within nine months.

“The cabinet endorsed the Economic Coordination Committee’s (ECC) decision for utilising Rs 5 billion to carry out fresh census in the current year,” Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told a post-cabinet press conference.

“The whole census process is likely to be completed by December, with the result of its pilot project being finalised by April or May. After that, Election Commission of Pakistan would be able to start working on new delimitations by January of next year,” he said.

The minister also expressed confidence that the 2023 general elections would be held under fresh delimitations and the census was being expedited for this purpose.

Under the proposed legal reforms, Mr Chaudhry said that in case a criminal matter was not wrapped up in nine months, the presiding judges and prosecutors would be bound to give reasons to the chief justices of the high courts concerned.

Under the draft reforms, a plea bargain clause had been suggested for accused in criminal cases, he said adding that a station house officer would have to be a graduate and an officer of the rank of sub-inspector. He claimed that under the proposed law, an independent prosecution service would be launched, forensic laboratories would be upgraded and state-of-the-art equipment and devices would be procured for the investigation of cases.

The minister said the cabinet had also proposed an extension in the time of submission of challan by the police in the court to 45 days, instead of 14 days.

He also announced that Faisal Sherjan had been appointed executive director of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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