Karachi   -  Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khan Khosa on Friday pointed out false testimonies as a basic hindrance in the dispensation of speedy justice in criminal cases and said that model courts set up precisely for the same purpose had achieved remarkable results, with 12 districts in the country having zero pendency rates in murder and narcotics cases.

“Cases pending in model courts in five more districts are in single digits now and soon there will be no case left,” he said while addressing a seminar here at the Central Police Office (CPO)-Sindh police headquarters- with top police officials and others in attendance.

Lamenting the practice of giving false testimonies, the CJP quoted an anecdote from the colonial era, saying that in 1925, some British judges of the Lahore High Court had declared that a dying person could not lie, attaching sanctity to his testimony.

He, however, said that in the sub-continent people gave false testimonies even on death bed so that their enemies could suffer for the rest of their lives.

He regretted that unfortunately in Pakistan, in every murder case the eyewitnesses were either brother, father, uncle or cousin of the deceased.

He said that he had decided to tackle the issue even if it takes some time or result in acquittals. “In the larger interest of the nation, we have to give the message that false testimonies will not be accepted,” the CJP said.

Khosa said that from a legal point of view a person lying in the court even once is deemed a liar. “Even as per Islamic jurisprudence, if you lie in the court once, you can never be a witness for your entire life,” he said.

“In 1951 Justice Munir Malik of “doctrine of necessity” fame believed that accepting false statement was necessary to convict an accused… it was a wrong approach which destroyed the social fabric of the society,” Khosa recalled.

He said that people lied even under oath and posed themselves as witnesses despite knowing nothing about the case. “We have decided not to tolerate this if we want a just system in the society,” the CJP said.

He informed that at the time they were trying 15 eyewitnesses in murder cases across Pakistan for lying under oath. 

He warned the investigation officers against bringing liars to the court, saying that they would also be considered accomplices in the crime if they did so.

“Devise another methodology of investigation, use finger prints and other means to prove the case rather than bringing witnesses with false testimonies,” the CJP said, and added that although it appeared to be a small step in the justice system, but would prove to be a giant leap in future.

Speaking on the second core issue, he said these were delays in deciding cases. The CJP was of the view that there was no need for finding a new procedure or setting up new courts as improvement in the existing system could make it deliver better results.

He said that simple solutions to the issues were required rather than forming commissions, organising conferences and seminars.

The CJP said he had taken three decisions to ensure cases were decided on time. “We have decided there will be no adjournment of case at any cost, unless the lawyer or judge dies,” Asif Saeed Khan Khosa said.

Secondly, he said it had been decided to stop rollover of cases, a system in which a judge takes up multiple cases at a time, records some testimonies and then adjourns these.

“We have decided that only one case will be heard at a time and after its conclusion the next case will be taken up,” the CJP said, and added that the third but foremost issue was of state cases in which it was observed that instead of state, the complainant was compelled to bring the witnesses.

“It has been decided that state, not the complainant, will be responsible to bring witnesses. We have appointed focal persons at SP offices across the country who have been directed to ensure presence of witnesses in the court for testifying on time,” he said.

Giving results of the process, he said that in 116 districts of Pakistan, one judge had been appointed on criminal side for the court and in the last 86 working days unbelievable results were achieved as these courts decided 9767 murder and narcotics cases.

He said that in 12 districts of Pakistan namely Barkhan, Dera Bugti, Kohlu, Harnai, Kalat, Panjgur, Ziarat in Balochistan, Kolai-Palas- district of Peshawar and lower Kohistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhua and Jehlum, Bahawalnagar and Lodhran in Punjab there was zero pendency rate in murder and narcotics cases.

He also applauded police for giving full support to the judges during the case proceedings.