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A quest to provide swift justice in Pakistan

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News Analysis |

Today, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan will start proceedings on a petition filed in the apex court seeking fresh rules for lower courts to decide on petitions, suits and appeals within the prescribed or stipulated time frame under Article 202 of the Constitution and Section 122 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC).

The SC was requested in a petition to direct the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan to set the maximum time frame for lower courts for deciding suits, petitions, and appeals. Moreover, the petitioner demanded the lower courts must also disclose the average time courts and tribunals are required in handing down order and judgment.

Being part of the system, where justice to common people is denied is what prompted petitioners to seek change in the methodology at the lower level of the judiciary, hoping to restore the collapsed reputation of the system.

The petition also persuaded the SC to order the federal and provincial governments to submit the apex court the total number of pending cases, including petitions, suits, appeals, and revisions.

Another important demand put forward by the petitioner was the compulsion on high court registrars to submit periodic reports on the performance of their rule committees to enforce the fundamental right of access to justice. And in case, if such committees were not operational, they should be formulated and equipped with necessary trained staff to allow reporting of meetings.

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The number of legal practitioners which include Attaullah Hakeem Kundi, Muhammad Haider Imtiaz ,Umeer Ijaz Gilani, , Hadiya Aziz and Raheel Ahmed also asked the apex court to order for National Judiciary Policy Making Committee to revise the national judicial policy using the scientific methods to assess the state of affairs and its causes and submit it in the SC.

Agonizingly Lengthy way to Justice?

According to the study conducted by the former chief justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, ‘a case takes a whopping 25 years on average from registration to ultimate disposal by the Supreme Court’. One of the petitioners referred to his study and stated that the total shelf life of an average case in civil courts of Punjab takes more than three-years and it takes 58 hearings to pass a decree.

Moreover, World Justice Project survey report released in 2017, Pakistan ranks at 106 among 113 countries in the category of the civil justice system. In a country with such justice credentials and merits, only a fool would think an impartial justice system in Pakistan exists.

This is why apparently a political investigative report on the corruption of global big-wigs in Panama Papers was rightly perceived as a conspiracy against the ruling family and Pakistani elite.

The survey, which was conducted in collaboration with Gallup Pakistan shows that criminal justice in Pakistan is ranked 81 among the 113 countries. With due respect, the merit of judgments is highly questionable across the board.

The conviction rate in Pakistan is between 5 and 10 %. This report highlighted the extremely bad status of Pakistan’s justice system. It is not possible for an ordinary person to go to court and get relief. In such an untrustworthy and highly questionable system, how would one expect to witness the rule of law and justice on facts?

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This is why apparently a political investigative report on the corruption of global big-wigs in Panama Papers was rightly perceived as a conspiracy against the ruling family and Pakistani elite.

The judicial reforms at lower courts are at call for an hour at a time when Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Saqib Nisar is criticized from some circles for taking too many suo moto cases. It reflects the acute injustices in Pakistan’s society, where police and judicial system has failed to provide justice to masses and the right of access to justice is violated.

As Justice Justice Khawaja had said on his suo moto approach, “this is a people-friendly jurisdiction and its use has had immense benefits for a large number of people who are underprivileged and don’t have the means of accessing the prevalent judicial system which is both expensive and prone to unacceptable delays.”

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Being part of the system, where justice to common people is denied is what prompted petitioners to seek change in the methodology at the lower level of the judiciary, hoping to restore the collapsed reputation of the system.

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