LAHORE: The Punjab home department has instructed the deputy commissioners (DCs), who are conveners of the District Intelligence Committees (DICs), as well as heads of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD), to submit cases for proscription of persons in the Fourth Schedule after observing codal formalities as envisaged under the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997.

The home department says it was compelled to refer back the incomplete cases to the districts concerned to fulfill the codal formalities. “Such a situation warrants delay for enlistment/reenlistment of required persons in the Fourth Schedule; and it is quite likely that during the intervening period the persons being prescribed may escape from the country or any untoward situation may arise,” the department observed.

In two separate letters to all the DCs/conveners of DICs and the CTD, the home department has stated that a person’s name is enlisted in the Fourth Schedule of the Act if there are reasonable grounds to believe that such person is “concerned in terrorism”; an activist, office-bearer or an associate of an organisation kept under observation under section 11D or proscribed under section 11B; and in any way concerned or suspected to be concerned with such organisation or affiliated with any group suspected to be involved in terrorism or sectarianism or acting on behalf of, or at the direction of, any person or organisation proscribed under the ATA 1997.

The department has stated that it was observed while scrutinising the cases for proscription of persons that these were being submitted without observing codal formalities as envisaged under the Act ibid. Therefore, the incomplete cases were referred back to the district concerned to fulfill the codal formalities.

The department says it is also facing serious problems in defending such cases in the Lahore High Court due to lack of evidence and material as required under Section 11EE of the Act.

“The LHC is setting aside such cases with strong remarks,” it added.

Asserting that the proscription of persons should be treated as “most important” and the cases of persons placed on Fourth Schedule under ATA, 1997 should be reviewed in the meetings of DICs, and only those cases be forwarded to the home department that fulfill the requirements of Section 11EE of ATA, 1997, as well as the instructions already shared, to avoid any future complication or embarrassment in superior courts, and unnecessary delay in processing the cases.

In a separate letter to the additional inspector general of police, CTD, the home department has stated that the CTD had been declared the leading agency for proscription of persons under Section 11EE of ATA, 1997.

It said the DIC, on the request of the district officer, CTD, considering cases in its meetings and the DCs, forward recommendations of the committee to the home department for proscription of persons.

In pursuant to the dictum laid down by the superior courts, the home department stated that it had prepared guidelines, which should be strictly observed while submitting such cases.

The department has instructed the CTD to provide documentary proof/audio/visual material regarding affiliation of an activist with a proscribed/under observation organisation or group, besides documentary proof of funds collection and registration of criminal cases in this regard.

In case of secret meetings (of a person) with members of proscribed/under observation organisation, audio/visual material and registration of FIR under relevant laws, the home department has sought documentary proof of ‘jihadi training’, if any; CDR data with transcripts of calls or end-to-end audio recording. It should also be established on record that callers on both ends were the same persons whose call data was being used in evidence, the department says.

It also instructs the officials to make available audio/visual material and registration of FIR in case of distribution of hate material by a person, besides audio/visual record of hate speeches and registration of criminal case.

It says the acquittal, discharge or withdrawal of prosecution in a criminal case is not relevant material for the purposes of proscription under Section 11EE of the ATA 1997. It also says conviction other than offences under the Act is no ground for enlistment in the 4th Schedule.

The home department has asked the CTD to instruct its field formation to complete all codal formalities referred to above well in time for submission of cases to the department so as to avoid any future complication, embarrassment in superior courts and unnecessary delay in processing the cases under Section 11EE of ATA, 1997.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2024

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