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Curbing perjury

SHORTLY before wearing the robes of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, the author of many important judgments, had categorically declared his intentions to build a dam against fake witnesses and false testimonies and on Wednesday he put his words to action by ordering legal proceedings against any witness found to have resorted to deliberate falsehood. In its judgment, the apex court ordered courts not to allow any leniency against those resorting to false testimonies and to reject testimonies if even a part of them are based on lies.
False testimony has been a bane of our criminal justice system as a result of which many innocent people have gone to the gallows or languished for years behind bars simply because someone lied in court. In this backdrop, the very judgment of the apex court is highly welcomed which indeed is line with our Islamic injunctions and teachings. The fact of the matter is that those resorting to perjury in the courts for any reason undermine the legal process and they need to be punished as per the Pakistan Penal Code, according to which, giving false testimony at any stage of a judicial proceeding makes one liable to seven years behind bars, while punishment for false testimony in a capital case can extend to life imprisonment. It is because of non-enforcement of relevant law that perjury had become so widespread in the courts. Now the landmark judgment definitely has shown the path to all tiers of judiciary and we expect that the lower courts will duly follow the judgment in order which will also help build confidence of masses on judiciary But at the same it is also important that steps are taken towards protection of witnesses as false testimony is not always purchased but it may be the result of intimidation. Therefore, witness protection must be made far more robust. In addition, responsibility also rests with the executive to do away with the shortage of judges in the courts as working with full capacity will help the courts speedily dispose of the cases.