A special court formed to deal with cases registered under the Protection of Pakistan Act (PoPA), 2014 has not decided a single case so far despite the fact that less than two months are left in expiry of the act on June 15, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The act was introduced by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government in 2013 but was challenged in the court of law. Later, the government took this act to parliament where after amendments in July 2014, it was adopted with an expiry clause of two years.
The PoPA 2014 was enacted with the aim of providing protection against waging war or insurrection against Pakistan, prevention of acts threatening the security of Pakistan and for speedy trial offences falling in the schedule (of offense under the PoPA).
The offences that fall under the act are suicide bomb attacks, killing, kidnapping, extortion or attacks on member of parliament, judiciary, executive, media and official of armed forces or are the crime against ethnic, religious and political groups. Any other conduct which involves challenging the writ of state also falls under this act, such as hate speech, spreading or using banned literature.
According to the act, five special courts had to function in the country and for the purpose additional district & session judges had been appointed as judges of the special court. Initially, a delay was observed in appointment of judges after the adoption of PoPA.
For Lahore, PoPA court additional district & session judge Muqarab Khan had been appointed but the court remained dysfunction till February 2016. Poor security and a lack of staff were the reasons behind the delay in functioning of this court.
Police had registered around 200 cases under the PoPA against different suspects but no challan was submitted since PoPA court did not function.
In the absence of this court, three suspects had been awarded bails by the Lahore High Court and Supreme Court.
Earlier, a letter written by office of the prosecutor general Punjab directed the additional inspector general of police (AIGP) of the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) to submit the scrutiny report of the suspects held under the PoPA. A letter was also written to the public prosecutors for speedy trial before the court.
From the time the PoPA court is functional in Lahore, just 14 challans have been presented. Among them, three challans were presented by the Police Department while all others were presented by the CTD.
The court has completed arguments in five cases in which it has reserved the verdicts while in other cases argumentation is still in progress.
Sources told this scribe that these fourteen cases were registered against 31 suspects and they were accused of having links with the banned Hizbut Tahrir. They said that cases registered against suspects were of the same nature such as spreading or publishing anti-state literature.