Punjab Government has decided to start up a legal aid agency, the first of its kind in Pakistan, which will provide free services of proper defense lawyers to poor people charged as criminals, in order to have their case properly pleaded.
At present, a similar service is being provided which started off in February 2015. Unfortunately, the rates are so low that none of the good lawyers is willing to work for the agency.
On Wednesday, the local media was informed about the establishment of Punjab Legal Aid Agency through a fresh law. The agency will represent and fight for the people who are convicted of a crime and can not afford legal aid due to high expenses, said the officials.
The executive order that was established in February 2015 had a payment rate of Rs 25,000 for the Lahore High Court and Rs 20,000 for the sessions court case. The officials said that the legal aid services provided by the executive order were inadequate and led to a miscarriage of justice.
“Every accused has legal and human rights and we are going to ensure them for those who cannot afford to engage a lawyer for want of money,” a senior official said. The agency will have the authority to make the payments on case-to-case basis. In case the services of the senior and experienced lawyers were needed, the payments would be higher.
He also said, “draft law for the agency was being prepared and would soon be sent to the law department for checking and enactment”.
The establishment of this agency by the Punjab Government would improve the criminal justice system in the province.