CJ for security to all dealing with terrorism cases in ATC

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Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Chaudhry emphasised the need for providing adequate protection to witnesses, prosecution and the Anti-terrorism court (ATC) judges who deal with cases of hardened criminals.
Speaking at a meeting convened to discuss the status of implementation of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997 on Saturday, the CJ said if the witnesses are fully protected they would be coming forward in order to depose against the accused. He said the cases in ATCs are related to hardened criminals who are involved in heinous offences and therefore witnesses in such cases need special care and protection. Similarly, he said, adequate protection must also be provided to the personal investigator, prosecuting against the accused and the judges.
He said the backlog in the disposal of cases is partly due to delay in appointment of judges.
Justice Chaudhry said the Anti-terrorism Act is a special law designed to tackle the issue of terrorism, and contains fairly stringent provisions to combat the menace of terrorism but there has been no improvement in combating the acts of terrorism, stopping sectarian violence and the commission of heinous and sensational offences.
“We need to examine the situation, find out the issues and problems faced by the courts in expeditiously deciding cases, by prosecutors in securing convictions and the investigators in collecting and presenting before the court sufficient material and evidence to punish the culprits,” he said.
The CJ referred to a report of the Punjab Prosecution Department that examined the judgments of ATCs and pointed out a high rate of acquittal. The report also highlighted the basic reasons and factors responsible for such a high rate of acquittals. The CJ said with defective investigation and weak prosecution, it is highly unlikely to secure convictions which results in criticism over the performance of ATCs. It also demoralises the personnel of the prosecution and investigating agencies, which in turn demoralises the society implying that nothing could be done to control and combat the acts of terrorism and commission of heinous crimes, the CJ said.