Legislative reforms

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  • The most fundamental laws were enacted by the British

Parliament, the supreme law making body, is mandated to legislate upon each and every aspect of the affairs of the state. Undoubtedly, in a democratic setup, the parliament is supreme. Although judicial activism sometimes toes upon the very essence of the separation of powers, however, that is mostly because of a vacuum.

When one quarter fails to do its job diligently, the other embarks upon a journey to do the needful. Irrespective of the parliament’s failure, no other institution should be allowed to infringe the doctrine of separation of powers.

Amidst promises of welfare and betterment in the society, the Khan led government has taken upon itself tasks which seem next to impossible. Most of the promises made cannot be fulfilled unless and until the laws of the country are worked upon. The most basic and fundamental laws prevalent in our country were mostly enacted by the British. The two codes that form the bible of legal practice have been gifted to us by the British. The Code of Civil Procedure and the Code of Criminal Procedure are a gift of the British rulers. Despite their occupation of our land, their system of justice was well developed back in the day. So much so that the same codes enacted more than a hundred years ago are still effectively followed throughout our country.

Some amendments, which were necessary, have been made however the gist remains the same. What our country needs, in almost all every aspect of the state, is legislative reforms. And that too drastic ones. To begin with, the law of evidence needs to be reassessed. Witness protection programs, which are effective, need to be introduced. A vast majority of criminals walk free since people are too scared to face them in the courtroom. Open threats coupled with attacks on witnesses are not uncommon when it comes to Pakistan. Even the judges are not spared when it comes to intimidation tactics.

Laws such as the whistleblower act, promised by the PTI government, need to have a mechanism for the protection of those coming forward. In our country, realistically speaking, the identity of the whistleblower may not be kept a secret for long. Those at the center of the investigation might disclose the names. Unlike most developed countries, our country lacks the basic level of morality required to operate in such circumstances. At the same time, people also have to be safeguarded from undue accusations as well. The balance has to be carefully struck.

The government leading from the front needs to actively pursue legislation. All such laws which have now become outdated need to be amended and brought up to the mark. Prolonged litigation can be curbed by introducing amendments to the existing code. The concept of adjournments as a delaying tactic should be rooted out by enacting a law penalising the same.

Laws such as the whistleblower act, promised by the PTI government, need to have a mechanism for the protection of those coming forward

Similarly, traffic laws need drastic reforms so as to avoid the thousands of deaths each year in road accidents. A person driving at an extraordinary speed should be criminally liable for endangering the lives of others. This coupled with all those responsible for allowing underage drivers should be punishable by imprisonment. Traffic fines should be increased and should be formed as a major deterrent for all violators. At the same time, laws should be also be passed which would help in the enforcement of the existing ones. Almost every statue should have a deterrent present for the enforcers.

On the other hand, inheritance is another subject which the government should focus its attention on. A vast majority of women are deprived of their lawful share of inheritance by misogynistic members of their families. Not only is this deprivation immoral but also contravenes the fundamentals of divine law. It is against the norms of Shariah to deprive a woman from her fair share of inheritance. Legislation in this regard is essential so as to protect the rights of women.

Even accountability laws need to be amended. Certain provisions of the incumbent law put a question mark on the very basis of a fair trial and due process. Although accountability is the biggest slogan raised by the government however, at the same time, it is responsible to protect the rights of the citizenry.

If a change has to be brought indeed, then the same is only possible through legislative reforms. All other projects will be considered a needle in the haystack if the laws of the country are not crafted in a way, which serves the interests of the common man. Thousands remain incarcerated and languish in various prisons of the country mostly innocent people who were simply at the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes police officials also falsely implicate poor individuals for failing to pay bribes. Most do not have a fair representation before a court of law and are convicted for the crimes of others.

A law requiring equal protection and fair representation should be brought forward. Public defenders of a better standard should be provided to the accused. Criminal justice system can only be reformed through updated, effective legislation and its subsequent enforcement.

The foremost responsibility of parliamentarians is not to undertake development projects but to legislate. From public sector appointments to traffic to accountability. Every aspect of governance requires legislation. The best gift that PTI can give to the masses is to legislate for their betterment.

Without legislative reforms, all projects brought forward by PTI will fall into the same system. The faces might have changed but the system will remain the same. To bring about a drastic change in the system, the entire framework of law needs to be reevaluated.

The federal law minister claims to have drafted a number of bills to be presented to the parliament. Let’s hope he maintains his pace throughout his tenure and works on all those sectors of law which require attention. Most importantly, these legislative reforms should be followed by an enforcement mechanism otherwise all of it would be for nothing.