The territorial jurisdiction of a criminal court can be classified into three types: local, intermediate, and general. Local courts have the power to hear cases that arise within their prescribed geographic area, while intermediate and general courts have the authority to hear cases that fall outside of their geographic areas. The Supreme Court of Pakistan is the apex court of the country with supreme administrative authority over all criminal courts.
Any person suspected of committing a crime is subjected to a rigorous trial in the prescribed criminal court that has jurisdiction in the matter, after investigation which must be completed within 14 days under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr PC). The court, before the trial begins, is required to allow the accused to appoint their own defence counsel under Article 10 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The Court will then read out the Charge against the accused, which details the nature of the offence and what actions or lack thereof constitute the specific crime. After this, the prosecution will be given a chance to present any evidence they have against the accused.
The accused's defence counsel will then be given the opportunity to cross-examine this evidence and object to it as they see fit. Any person who is the victim of a crime has the right to appoint their own prosecution counsel, in addition to the state-appointed counsels. After the prosecution concludes its evidence, the presiding Judge will ask the alleged offender questions under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code. These questions are crucial as they give the alleged offender an opportunity to explain any incriminating evidence against them.
The alleged offender is given the opportunity to present themselves as a witness, as well as documentary evidence and other witnesses in their defence. After the defence has presented their evidence, the trial is concluded and the Presiding Judge pronounces a judgment of acquittal or punishment. In both cases, the prosecution and the alleged offender have the right to appeal the judgment of the trial court to the immediate superior court. Punishment is a way of seeking revenge or retribution for a crime that has been committed. The severity of the punishment should fit the nature of the crime. It's important to note that the Constitution of Pakistan specifically prohibits retrospective punishment and double punishment.
Article 12 states: "No law shall authorize the punishment of a person for an act or omission that was not punishable at the time of the act or omission", while Article 13 states: "No person shall be punished for the same offense more than once". Article 13(b) of the Constitution of Pakistan states that: “No person accused of an offence shall be compelled to be a witness against himself”.
The Constitution of Pakistan specifically sets out the Criminal Law of Pakistan by stating in Article 9: “No person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law”. And the Law shall never be against the universally accepted Fundamental Rights, which is specifically and explicitly enshrined in Article 8 of the Constitution of Pakistan. The principles of criminal law are based on justice, equity, and good conscience. They provide guidelines for formulating a rational penal policy. Criminal law must have four important elements to be effective: political, specificity, uniformity, and penal sanction. The functioning of the criminal justice system is wide enough to achieve its goals and objectives. Its ultimate goal is to make society safer for its citizens. The most widely accepted aims of the criminal law include:
1-The purpose of criminal law is to reflect society’s disapprobation of criminal activity. This is done by apprehending, convicting, and punishing offenders.
2-Criminal law can also be used to deter criminals from committing crimes and to advise people on how to avoid becoming victims of crime.
3-In some cases, criminal law is used to rehabilitate offenders and incapacitate those who might pose a danger to society.
4-Ensuring the safety and security of people is another important goal of criminal law.
5-We work to ensure that the victims of crime receive adequate compensation from the offender whenever possible.
We also strive to make sure that the law is applied efficiently and fairly, so that suspects, defendants, those who are held in custody, and witnesses are all treated properly. This includes making sure that the innocent are acquitted without harassment and that the guilty are duly punished. Finally, we work to ensure that the criminal justice system is accountable to society as a whole. In Pakistan, the major statutes relating to criminal law are the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Criminal Procedure Code, 1898.