ISLAMABAD: (APP) Senate Wednesday unanimously passed the Pakistan Commission of Inquiry Bill 2016 providing for constitution of properly empowered commissions for holding inquiries into important national matters.
Presenting the bill in the house, Minister for Law and Justice, Zahid Hamid said the bill had become imperative after the observation of the Supreme Court when it was referred the matter of Panama Papers for an inquiry.
He said the Supreme Court had mentioned that law regarding formation of a commission to investigate the matters like Panama Papers was toothless, therefore constituting a commission would be a futile exercise.
He said keeping in view the observation of the apex court a new bill has been moved to empower any future such commissions that may investigate the matters of national importance.
The bill provides that any aommission constituted under this law shall have the powers of summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person and examining him on oath; requiring the discovery and production of any documents; receiving evidences on affidavit; issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses or documents; and requisitioning any public record or copy thereof from any court or office.
The commission shall also have powers to require any person or authority to furnish information or documents on points that in the opinion of the commission may be useful or relevant.
The bill provides that the chairman or any officer of grade-18 authorized by the chairman may enter any building or place where the commission has reasons to believe that any books of accounts or other documents relating to the subject matter of the inquiry may be found; and may seize any such books of accounts or documents of take extracts or copies therefrom, subject to the provisions of section 102 and 103 of the Crpc, in so far as they may be applicable.
The commission shall also have powers as that of High Court to punish any persons who abuses, interferes or obstructs the process of the commission in any way or disobeyes the order of the commission; scandalize the commission or otherwise does anything which tends to bring the commission or a member of the commission in relation to his office into hatred, ridicule or contempt; does anything that tends to prejudice the determination of a matter pending before the commission; and does anything else which by any other law, for the time being in force constitutes contempt of court.
Regarding additional powers of the commission, the bill states that the federal government may, by notification in the official gazette confer all powers of a criminal court under CrPC; powers to constitute special teams, consisting of officers from the executive authorities and experts in specific fields, for the purpose of assisting the commission in conducting an inquiry; powers to constitute an international team and seek international cooperation from foreign counties and agencies to get information, documents, evidence and record or issue letters and interrogatories in accordance with applicable international instruments; powers to issue, in accordance with the provisions may write a letter to competent judicial authority in another country seeking assistance in examination and recording evidence of a witness residing within the jurisdiction of such authority; and such other powers as are deemed necessary for conducting the inquiry.