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Restoring executive magistracy

November 02, 2012

THE issue of restoring the executive magistracy has once again come to the fore. It is said that all the provinces are unanimously in favour of this. This issue was first raised in 2010 at federal inter-provincial coordination division and has since remained in cold storage.

But it is the federal government which is reportedly interested this time around to take up this issue for a possible breakthrough.

It must be left to the lawmakers to decide whether to restore it or not. I want to share my personal experience of being the executive magistrate (sub-divisional magistrate) in Malakand division. Here SDMs enjoy all the powers listed in the second schedule of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.

Having armed with the legal authority, the SDMs are the fountains of power at the sub-divisional level. The common man looks to his office to redress his grievances. The SDM is the person who lives in the midst of the people, meets them in the bazaar, in his court, in his office, in their towns and on all occasions of public importance.

Because of such frequent meetings with the people, he knows their problems more intimately and is better placed to resolve their problems. The SDM also plays the role of a bridge between the judiciary and the executive.The district administration was stripped of its judicial powers under the devolution plan which negatively affected the service delivery. The district coordination officer seemed more like a British king who could do no wrong.

As a result, not only the law and order but the performance of almost every department has deteriorated to a ngerous extent. The SDM not only performs his own duty with confidence and authority, he also keeps a close liaison with the line departments and can ask them to perform their duties for effective service delivery.

Thus there is a need for a person with a legal power to fix those who play foul with the law, and that man is the executive magistrate.

M. QAISAR KHAN Batkhela, Malakand