Creative minority and progress – 22 Nov 2022

In the history of mankind the creative minority played a role of an apex in the enlightenment of the state and society

In the recorded history of mankind the creative minority played a role of an apex in the enlightenment of the state and society. Creative and dedicated minority is even able to renew and recreate the static and frozen human society in the history. Majority always turns its rationality into collectivism which ultimately leads to illusionary beliefs and order of the world. In his book, Guns, Steel and Germs, Jared Diamond asserted that it is the geography that decides the fortune and destiny of the nations. On the other hand, Daron Acemoglu in his book, Why Nations Fail, argues it is not the geography but the institutions which decide the probability of progress in the states. While it is an established fact that it is the creative minority that decides the vibrant future or frozen future of the nations.

Creative minority can have different dimensions ranging from minority of arts and literature to intellectual elites. Creative minority in any state is the building block of the nation. Civilisations grow and die with the emergence of creative and dedicated minority and ultimately death of this creative minority. In his book, A Study of History, Arnold J Toynbee argues that a human society progresses from the primitive setup not because of the environmental or geographical factors but due to the response of the creative minority. If a nation is able to cultivate the creative and dedicated minority, it becomes enlightened in the international order.

Creative minority plays a role when a state or a nation is faced with a challenge. What matters is how they respond to the challenge. Human history is the outcome of this cyclic process in which the creative minority responds to the challenge and paves the way to progress and development. Europe was surfeited in the bloody wars and militias in the form of “Thirty Years’ War” from 1618 to 1648 and then the creative minority of different territories decided to respond to the challenge of wars and codified a treaty, of Westphalia, which ended the violent warfare and demarcated the concept of nation states with the features of sovereignty.

The decolonisation of South Asia and independence of Pakistan and India were led by the creative minority of political leaders in the Subcontinent. Creative political minority of Muslims in United India decided to respond to the challenge of Hindus and British hegemony in the form of new state. In 1947 Pakistan came into being as an independent state. Here we can discuss how the creative minority turned into dominant minority after the creation of the Pakistan and failed to respond to the challenges related to domestic and international policies. The dominant minority stagnated and could not devise a constitution for nine years. Due to the lost ability of the creative minority, the challenges pushed the new state into a vicious cycle of political and social engineering.

At the state level, Malaysia started a robust economic growth due to creative economic minority policies. Mahathir Mohammad, in particular, transformed Malaysia’s economic market within years. If creative minority of any state is dedicated, it creates inclusive state institutions with strong checks and balances which spur unmatchable growth. But if the creative minority descends into corruption and nepotism, it leads the entire nation on to the path of collapse. If political minority in a state is good enough to respond state challenges with creative capacities, it can neutralise every challenge and advance amidst disorder. North Korea’s political creative minority turned into dominant minority and resulting in the state suffering from poverty, unemployment and disorder. On the other hand, the political creative minority in the South Korea is efficient and has the ability to respond to every challenge inclusively. Thus, South Korea is put on the list of Illuminated Nations in 21st Century. It is the creative minority which decides the future and fortune of a state!

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Justice for Perween – 22 Nov 2022

The Sindh High Court has acquitted all five men sentenced for the murder of social activist and one of the founders of the Orangi Pilot Project Perween Rahman who was shot dead in Karachi in 2013. The SHC has said that the 2021 verdict by the anti-terrorism court (ATC) now stands nullified. It has been nine years since Perween Rahman lost her life, nine very long years for her family to wait for justice. Unfortunately, they are yet again back to square one. The final Joint Investigation Team report presented to the Supreme Court in the Perween Rahman case some years back had posited many theories. Among those the JIT said had a motive in the murder were militant organizations, the illegal water and hydrant mafia in the city or organized crime groups involved in land grabbing.

The Perween Rahman case is a reminder that those who are working to safeguard the rights of the most vulnerable amongst us face real threats to their lives and that they are largely leading solitary battles. There is little trust in a system that seems to represent the interests of the criminal class more than that of those who would fight them. Rahman’s work was a direct threat to many who see land rights as existing only to be usurped. Rather than regularizing informal settlements and giving ownership rights to those who settle there, officialdom too ends up privileging organized land usurpers who profit from providing housing – often unsafe – to the city’s growing population. That said, the five men who were placed on trial for the murder of Perween Rahman included a principal accused who her sister says had reportedly even confessed to the crime. The Sindh High Court has said that, despite the evidence provided during the ATC trial, doubts arise over the investigation and the findings. For years, there have been concerns over the need for law enforcement and prosecution to ensure that loopholes and problems in investigations are answered and properly covered in the reports they file so that courts are in a better position to reach a just verdict. Such loopholes have in many cases allowed murderers, rapists and other criminals to go free after committing their crimes.

This is a terrible injustice to a person like Perween Rahman as well as her family who have waited far too long only to see her alleged killers be acquitted. One wonders to what extent human rights defenders are meant to risk their lives to raise a voice for, and protect, the vulnerable. Perween Rahman’s family has issued a press release through their lawyer asking the accused to be immediately detained since they pose a threat to the family. They have also asked the government of Sindh to file an appeal against Monday’s judgment, and for the state to introspect on such cases that fail to provide justice in the face of grave violence. We hope these measures are taken immediately so that some semblance of justice can be brought to a woman who lost her life working for the most marginalized of Karachi.

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Climate justice – 22 Nov 2022

Amid a global economic and security crisis, all eyes have been on the COP27 agreement. The summit has approved the setting up of a climate fund – to arrange finances needed to help countries adapt to climate change and mitigate its harmful effects.

However, how this step will impact the Global South in terms of climate justice is crucial in determining the summit’s success. Over the last few years, developing countries, in an unprecedented manner, have geared up more strongly than ever before to demand the developed world to pay up for the loss and damage they suffered due to climate change.

In this regard, the 2022 COP27 turned out to be lucky for developing countries as leaders have struck a historic deal on formation of a loss-and-damage fund. Towards the end of the summit, rich countries agreed to compensate developing countries which are most vulnerable to climate change and have limited resources to tackle the climate crisis.

Blame game from both sides – carbon polluters and vulnerable countries – deters the process of building a secure and sustainable world to live in. On the one hand, rich countries have long stalled debates on climate-related loss and damage subsidies to developing countries despite being responsible for a hefty amount of historical GHG (greenhouse gases) emissions. They have been accusing developing countries of corruption and poor governance so as to resist the creation of a loss-and-damage fund that might hit them with large liabilities. On the other hand, developing countries have been trying to hide their inability to effectively confront the climate crisis by only portraying themselves as victims of climate change.

There is no denying that climate change is real and a threat to human existence. And there has been ample literature and research to provide evidence that while climate change discriminates against no one, its consequences are undoubtedly distributed unevenly across countries, leading to climate inequity in developing countries. As a result, countries that have the smallest carbon footprints also become most-vulnerable and susceptible to the deleterious impacts of the climate crisis.

No excuse could justify the failure of wealthy nations to build a climate finance fund and deliver on the $100 billion annual climate pledge they made in 2009 during COP15 to help poor countries mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.

As horrific devastation now becomes more visible in the regions with the least climate-altering emissions, demands for the creation of the climate-induced loss-and-damage fund were included in the agenda for the first time. It took world leaders 30 years to realize the importance of the matter and only after witnessing some exceptionally unfolding climate-driven calamities across the world in the current year.

In July this year, separate but connected events of scorching heatwaves occurred in Europe, China and the US. Heavy downpours unleashed flash floods in most parts of South Asia and prolonged droughts in East Africa left thousands of people dead and millions displaced. Large numbers of people were left on the brink of hunger and famine.

Lack of institutional, financial and economic capacity to cope with and adapt to climate variability in developing countries make them helpless at the time of climate emergency. In this regard, Pakistan is ground zero for the growing consequences of global climate change. Its agro-based economy (directly linked to nature) with diverse landscape that stretches from high mountains in the north to flat Indus plains in the east, from dense woodlands to Balochistan plateau in the west, from flood plains to river deltas – combined with rich natural resources and varied climate – has made Pakistan vulnerable to a wide range of climate hazards.

Disastrous floods in Pakistan compelled the country to make a case for ex-gratia compensation payments to countries which recently suffered loss and damage due to climate-change disasters. Now at a time when nations have reached a consensus to build a loss and damage fund – a success for the Global South – it is crucial to highlight the human-made side of disasters in developing countries that exacerbates the effects of climate change.

For instance, despite early warnings and a series of climate change-related incidents in the country’s recent past, no preparations were made by the government to deal with the anticipated floods that later left one-third of the country underwater. Rampant corruption, poor planning and deliverance, and underinvestment in development projects have remained consistent for decades and are a major hindrance in coping with climate-change effects.

It is now almost inevitable to avoid climate-change effects that are intensifying with time, especially for countries with economic and financial constraints. As almost eight million people are still stranded and displaced in Pakistan, the international community should not make any further delays in releasing funds to Pakistan and other countries impacted by climate change.

At the same time, governments in vulnerable countries should be held accountable for poor governance and mismanagement.

The writer is pursuing an MPhil in development studies at the Lahore School of Economics. She can be reached at: samqk11@gmail.com

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Climate coup – 22 Nov 2022

PAKISTAN’S representatives at the UN COP27 climate summit deserve commendation for leading a group of vulnerable caniries in pulling off an unlikely diplomatic coup. The summit concluded on Sunday in Egypt`s Sharm el-Sheikh with a hard-fought deal to establish a loss and damage fund for nations most vulnerable to climate change an achievement that many had thought impossible till just days ago. After the development, Pakistan`s Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman was credited internationally for leading the bloc known as the Group of 77 plus China, keeping it united, and thereby ensuring that a loss and damage fund, which had long eluded climate change campaigners, was finally agreed to before the conference disbanded till next year.

Reports in foreign media and Ms Rehman`s account of the breakthrough spoke of intense deliberations as negotiators worked round the clock to ensure that a deal was finalised before the COP27 participants headed home. Their commitment and dedication to ensuring climate justice must be applauded by all. It may also be recalled that Pakistan fought to have the loss and damage fund officially included on this year`s agenda of the UN climate summit.

It had been an important step, as powerful nations had long resisted the idea of a compensation fund, fearing it could open them to legal liabilities for causing devastating changes to the global environment because of unchecked industrialisation and consumerism. However, Pakistan`s mission had been spurred by the devastation from the unprecedented monsoon and extreme heatwaves this year, and it is no mean feat that our representatives successfully leveraged those experiences to secure a package for climate justice on a global scale.

The Global Shield initiative announced last week had been a breakthrough in climate finance, but its scope is limited to helping climate-vulnerable nations secure themselves against the risks arising from natural disasters through insurance and other financial instruments. On the other hand, the loss and damage fund answers the question of climate reparations on a scale that insurance policies cannot and will not cover. At the heart of the fund is the idea that countries that pay the price for climate change must be compensated by the nations that are responsible for it. It may be too early to celebrate, however, as the fund does not yet have anything in it, and the question of who must pay how much has been lef t for next year. Many also worry that powerful nations have managed to avoid another very important question how to immediately mitigate global warming amidst the buzz over the loss and damage fund.

That is as much a critical concern for the survival of the human race and needs equally urgent attention. Having secured this particular victory, Pakistan must now direct its efforts to help ensure progress on the other goals on the climate change agenda.

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Quetta teenager acquitted in triple murder case – 22 Nov 2022

Parents forgive the youngster, calling the killing of his brothers ‘a mistake’

QUETTA:
In a major development of the murder case of three brothers, Additional district and session Judge, Quetta acquitted the teenager Qais Khan under Qisas and Deyat— forgiven by his parents.

According to the sources, the accused Qais Khan appeared before the court of Additional Session Judge, but the parents of the victims forgave the accused. Parents told that he has committed a mistake which we have forgiven.

Qais Khan, son of famous health practitioner Dr Nasir Khan, was accused of killing his three brothers over domestic issues on September 26, 2022 and was arrested by the police.

According to an official of the prison department, family members came and took the accused Qais Khan along with them. The accused was released from Quetta jail after the court judgment.

He had confessed about the firing on his brothers, saying he didn’t have good relations with them as they used to make insulting remarks about him, adding that the suspect was also expecting a big share in property.

Abdul Haq Umrani, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Operations had said, the victims were coming from a wedding party when the accused opened fire and killed his own brothers on September 26 this year.

The dead bodies were shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta where a large number of people gathered inside the hospital. Asghar Khan Achakzai, parliamentary leader of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the Balochistan Assembly, and others had reached the hospital after hearing about the incident.

The heart wrenching incident occurred at Quetta’s Railway Society in which three brothers were killed and house servant Asfand was injured on a small domestic issue.

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Kidnapped boy recovered – 22 Nov 2022

SWABI: The Swabi police traced and recovered a 5-year-old boy and arrested two kidnappers while they busted an inter-provincial gang of burglars, a police spokesperson said on Monday. The spokesperson said that the kidnapped boy was recovered after two days of hectic efforts, involving the social media campaign as well as routine police work. They added that on the pointation of the boy, the Topi police also arrested his two kidnappers. Meanwhile, the spokesperson said, a team of the Swabi police arrested two people, allegedly involved in burglary at house in the jurisdiction of the Yar Hussain police station. The spokesperson added that stolen items, including cash, and the Kalashnikov used in the incident were recovered. OUR CORRESPONDENT

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Concern over custodial torture in blasphemy cases – 22 Nov 2022

LAHORE: Human rights activists have expressed their concern over custodial torture inflicted on accused for confession and urged authorities to regard principles of criminal justice to ensure a fair trial and effectively implement Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Bill, 2022.

They referred to the case of Imran Rehman, who was allegedly accused of posting blasphemous material in a WhatsApp group and was arrested by the Federal Investigation Agency.

A case was registered against Imran on Sept14 under secdons 11 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, 6, 7, 8, 9 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and 295-A, 295 B, 298, 109/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

He has been in jail for over two months and the authorities have severely tortured him, and forced to make him to confess an of fense he has not committed. Voice for JusticeChairperson Joseph Jansen said that the existing blasphemy laws did not guarantee a fair trial and religious freedom, and the accuser enjoyed impunity despite presenting false evidence and f alse testimony.

However, neither any law was amended, nor was any measure introduced to prevent misuse of blasphemy laws except procedural changes.

He noted that Pakistan`s blasphemy laws were incompatible with international human rights standards. `The accuser who levels blasphemy allegations against any person is bound to prove malicious intent, but this stipulation is missing in legislation and is not taken into account during blasphemy trials,` he said.

Lawyer Abdul Hameed Rana said that Imran Rehman used to work at Lahore Metro Ticket Office. `He is innocent and is f alsely accused of committing blasphemy. He is under severe mental pressure as he is imprisoned in a room in jail where four out of six prisoners suf fer from mental retardation.

A human rights activist, AshiknazKhokhar, said that the digital media and social platforms in Pakistan had become a source to make f alse accusations of blasphemy and target religious minorities. The blasphemy laws and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016 were misused to curb freedom of expression, thought, conscience and religion, as evident in cases involving Imran Rehman, Shaguf ta Kiran, and Zafar Bhatti.

He said innocent blasphemy accused were made to face imprisonment for years. For instance, Zafar Bhatti was the longest-serving prisoner/convict who was accused of sending blasphemous text messages. He has been behind the bars since July 2012, and he was sentenced to death in January 2022.

Another example is Shaguf ta Kiran who has been in jail since July 2021 on the accusation of sharing blasphemous content in a WhatsApp group.

`These accusations have completely ruined the lives of the family members of the accused who have to face relocation and financial constraints,` Khokar said.

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SHC sets aside conviction of five in Perween Rahman murder case – 22 Nov 2022

KARACHI: Giving them the benefit of doubt, the Sindh High Court on Monday overturned the conviction of five men in the Perween Rahman murder case and ruled that the case did not fall within the ambit of the AntiTerrorism Act (ATA) of 1997.A two-judge bench comprising Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha and Justice Zulfiqar Ali Sang observed that the court found no evidence that the appellants hatched a conspiracy to assassinate Ms Rahman, the director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP), in 2013.

Ms Rahman was gunned down near her of fice on Manghopir Roadon March 13, 2013. In December 2021, an antiterrorism court had sentenced four men Rahim Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan, Ayaz Ali alias Swati and Ahmed Khan alias Pappu Kashmiri to life imprisonment and handed down seven-year imprisonment to the fifth man, Imran Swati, the son of Rahim Swati.

The trial court found them guilty of facilitating, aiding and abetting outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants for the murder of the rights activist.

In its verdict, the bench observed that no motive for the killing had been asserted in the FIR, but interview of Ms Rehman, statement of complainant Aquila Ismail, a sister of the deceased, as well as submissions of her counsel and prosecutor had established that land grabbers had threatened the victim sincethey wanted to grab the land of the OPP.

`We find that the object, intent, purpose and design of the murder of the deceased was not to create terror but rather grab some of the land of the OPP and as such this case did not f all within the purview of the ATA and as such all the appellant were acquitted of any offence under the ATA in the impugned judgment,` the verdict added.

About the confession of Rahim Swati before a police officer, the bench stated in the judgement that the confession was recorded under Section 21-H (conditional admissibility of confession) of the ATA and such provision only applied for the offences of terrorism and for the offences of the Pakistan Penal Code a judicial confession can only be recorded under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code by a judicial magistrate where all relevant legal safeguards must be observed.

It noted that most of the appellants, who were shown arrested in the present case when they were already in police custody, confessed to their involvement despite the f act that there was no evidence against them at the time of detention. None of them were brought before a judicial magistrate to record their confessional statements.

If further said that even the language of relevant provision made it doubtful to admit the confession as evidence under the ATA even if the case had fallen under the ATA since police had no solid admissible evidence against any of the appellant until Rahim Swati allegedly confessed before SSP Akhtar Farooq, which indicated that the ingredients for Section 21-H of the ATA to be applicable had not been met.

The bench stated that there might be no procedural law in this respect for confession under Section 21-H of the ATA but the court found that it would be prudent if this requirement was complied with after all such confessions in order to protect the credibility and integrity of the confession.

Referring to a ruling of the apex court, it stated the Supreme Court had suggested that in Section 21-H of the ATA the word `DSP` ought to have been substituted by `judicial magistrate` as such provision was in violation of the Constitution, but such a change was not made by the legislature.

The judgement noted that a hotly disputed aspect of this case was the admissibility of the interview which Ms Rahman had given to a journalist in 2011 and aired only after her murder.

However, it said that the interview was inadmissible and excluded from consideration on the gourd that it has violated the rights of the accused to a fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution as the appellants were denied their right to cross-examine the deceased while such an interview also did not come within the purview of a dying declaration.

The deceased might have named appellant Rahim Swati in the interview in a general sense along with many other non-accused and political parties, but this is hardly compelling evidence against him in respect of this case which occurred two years later`,it added.

The bench noted that even if the confession of Rahim was found to be admissible in evidence, it was a con-fession by one abettor against other abettors and there would have to be some other independent evidence of unimpeachable nature to support and or corroborate it in order to lead to a conviction of any co-accused and can only be used as circumstantial evidence.

It observed that based on thefacts and circumstances of the case and evidence on record, abetment had not been proven against any of the appellants as there was no evidence that they instigated any of the alleged murderers as per charge.

The place of incident where the plan and conspiracy was allegedly hatched was not even visited by the investigating of ficer, the bench noted, adding the call data record was not collected to link any of the appellants to each other or any of the alleged persons who committed the murder or even to confirm the location of the appellants at the time of murder.

`It appears from the evidence that a firearm was recovered from Qari Bilal when he was killed in a police encounter and his pistol has matched with empties found at crime scene, however, no further investigation was ever carried out in this regard,` it added.

The bench noted that the joint investigation team (JIT) reports were exhibited, but the evidentiary value of a JIT report is no more than a Section 173 of CrPC.

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Afghan child recovered, kidnapper held – 22 Nov 2022

SWABI: Police recovered a five-year-old Afghan child, who was kidnapped three days ago, and arrested the alleged abductor.

DPO retired Capt Najamul Hassnain told journalists that Nimatullah, an Afghan living in Batakara area of Topi tehsil, lodged a complaint with police on Friday that his five-year-old son Atif Khan left the house and did not return.

He said that police lodged a case of abduction against unidentified accused on the complaint of the child`s father.

Topi police station SHO Haroon Khan said he along with his team started searching for the child from place to place, raided various areas and also advertised about him through social media. He said that the child was found in fields in Zarobi village.

He said that on the basis of information provided by the child and other evidence, the accused, Baseer Khan of Zarobi,was detained. He said that the identity of the accused was also confirmed through the child.

SHO Haroon said that the reason for abduction of child was not known but investigation was under way. However, another official said that the child was abducted for ransom.

COMPLAINTS: The SHOs in the district have been directed to sit in their respective police stations to hear the complaints of people daily for two hours, according to of ficials.

Retired Capt Najamul Hassnain has taken charge as DPO about 10 days ago and the new strategy has been adopted to control crimes in the district and create an environment of cooperation between people and police.

The officials said that for the first time such a strategy was adopted by district police. They said that in the past it was difficult for people to meet SHOs and register their complaints about their problems.-Correspondent

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SC allows Canada-based singer`s cross-examination via video link – 22 Nov 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Monday allowed crossexamination of singer Meera Shafi, popularly known as Meesha Shah,by atrialcourtthroughvideoconferencing from Canada.

The singer is embroiled in a defamation suit with popular celebrity Ali Zafar.

`The question that falls for our consideration is: whether the evidence of a witness who is not physically present in court can be recorded in a civil case by using the modern technology of video conferencing, within the existing legal framework,` observed Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah in a judgement he wrote adding her evidence was very much essential to just decision of the case, the 12-page judgement said.

A two-judge SC bench, headedby Justice Qazi Faez Isa, had taken up an appeal of Meesha Shafi against the May 18, 2022 Lahore High Court (LHC) order that disallowed a similar request.

Meesha Shafi is the only defendant in the suit who lives in Canada since 2016 with her family,including two children, therefore, her evidence is very much essential to just decision of the case, the 12-page judgement added.

The singer comes to Pakistan only when there is a working schedule for her. Waiting for her such a schedule would certainly cause a delay in the decision of the suit, and forcing her to come to Pakistan from Canada by leaving her children there or carrying them with her would incur such expense and inconvenience which surely appears unreasonable under the circumstances of the case, the judgement explained.

The judgement also rejected requirement of the singer to go to the Pakistan embassy in Canada and to involve any officer of the embassy in the process of recording her remaining cross-examination through videoconferencing, saying there was no dispute as to the identity of the singer, nor wasthere any serious apprehension that the petitioner would be under the influence of or tutored by any other person in the course of recording her remaining crossexamination.

In the 21st century, the judgement said, technological advancement has reached an unprecedented speed. A technological change is thus often so radical that it could not have reasonably been perceived by the legislature and catered in the language of the statute, nor can the legislature promptly catch up with such changes by the formal legislative process,the verdict said.

In such a scenario,intersection of law and technology not only requires the law to regulate technology but also to employ technology to make laws more at home with the technology-savvy society.

While concluding, the judgement also expressed concern over unending, lengthy cross-examination of the singer. It noted that a 24-page cross-examination of the petitioner has been recorded, yet the parties were contesting on the mode of recording further crossexamination of the petitioner for past eight months. The purpose ofcross-examination is to assist the courtinbringingthe truthtolight by disclosing or clarifying matters which witnesses may wish to conceal or confuse from motives of partisanship.

There is, however, a regrettable practice to use the tool of prolonged cross-examination for the purpose of leading the witness into some error by exhausting him through unnecessary and irrelevant questioning, regretted the judgement.

This practice is designed not for the disclosure of truth butfor the manipulation of error. In such a situation, the presiding ofhcer of the court, the judge, should not remain a silent spectator but should act as a vigilant supervisor, for the right of cross-examination is neither unlimited nor unbridled. When the judge observes that the right of cross-examination is being abused by asking irrelevant questions which are intended to prolong the crossexamination with the object of manipulating error, or to scandalize, insult or annoy the witness, he should intervene and disallow such questions, the judgement concluded.

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