Pakistan introduces specific Covid-19 legislation to protect masses: Law Minister

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Law and Justice, Barrister Dr. Muhammad Farogh Naseem on Thursday said, government has taken concrete steps to facilitate common man through introducing specific Covid-19 legislation in courts besides providing better healthcare facilities.

He was addressing a ‘Virtual Meeting of Common Wealth Law Ministers on the Legal Aspects of Covid-19’ on Thursday, said a press release. The Law Minister was accompanied by Secretary Law, Raja Naeem Akbar and Barrister Ambreen Abbasi who earlier participated in two different preliminary sessions, preceding the Meeting of Law Ministers.

The Law Ministers from the Commonwealth countries mainly focused on their countries’ response towards upholding the rule of law and other aspects related to fight against the pandemic.

Patricia Scotland QC, who is the Secretary General of the Commonwealth made the opening remarks while Law Ministers of United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan India, Sri Lanka and other Commonwealth countries participated in the meeting.

The Law Minister of Pakistan apprised the participants regarding the National Plan of Action (NPA) for Covid-19 that was developed in the earlier stages of the pandemic to ensure a coordinated emergency response by increasing capacity to mitigate detect and care for patients.

He also told the participants that special funds were allocated for federal and provincial health departments to fight against the pandemic. He said the Ehsaas Cash Programme was largest and most expensive social protection intervention during Covid-19 pandemic that helped millions of Pakistanis who were struggling due to economic crisis that resulted from the pandemic.

He said in addition to smart lockdowns, special measures were taken to limit the working of all courts to cases of urgent and important nature. The Supreme Court of Pakistan issued circulars, guidelines and advisories from time to time for staff, lawyers, litigants and security personnel in Court offices all over Pakistan. In April, the Lahore High Court IT department formed a ‘model court’, which maintains social distancing in the physical space, while allowing lawyers and witnesses to appear remotely. The courtroom has a large LCD screen for this purpose. The ‘model court’ allows written arguments and evidence to be shared via email. In addition, the Islamabad High Court has launched an e-facility and also introduced an app along with a two-way SMS service facility to assist litigants. The Supreme Court also conducted virtual hearing.

Pakistan also promulgated Covid-19 Prevention of Smuggling, Ordinance, 2020 to prevent smuggling of articles including Foreign Currency, gold, silver, precious stones, livestock and certain items of food consumption. Similarly Covid-19 Prevention of Hoarding Ordinance was also promulgated to prevent hoarding during the pandemic.