USA would not succeed on ‘war on terror’ without judicial reforms in Pakistan

By Hem Raj Jain,

No use of going into the debate that how much intervention by USA and other friends of Pakistan, in order to save ‘global war on terror’ was responsible for March 16 patch up regarding ‘Long March’. As far the reinstatement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chowdhary is concerned it was over-due since the time Musharraf failed to sustain the impeachment proceeding against Iftikhar.

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On one side whereas credit should be given to the lawyers community of Pakistan not only for ensuring that Musharraf is punished at the cost of his presidency and Zardari humbled (through two mass movements which were ignited and provided respect to by lawyers, first supported by political parties including PPP and second excluding PPP) thus paving the way for Iftikhar’s reinstatement on March 21, 2009 but also (in this process) for providing unprecedented & immense strength to democratic forces in Pakistan.

On other side the lawyers community of Pakistan will fail in their national duty if they rest content by merely getting justice to the institution of Supreme Court and do not similarly invest their time and energy for the cause of “rule of law” and do not help government of Pakistan in reforming the judicial system (which, like India, is as good as non existent for the majority of economically humble people of Pakistan)

But contrary to India, there is an urgency for judicial reforms in Pakistan because not only in Swat (where fundamentalists including Taliban etc are favoring rudimentary Islamic Courts) but in other parts of Pakistan also such Islamic Courts (Nizam-e-Adal) are being praised and even demanded by the people and their leaders and influential citizens mainly because of the cheap and speedy justice they dispense. Therefore if the world community especially USA and its allies want to succeed in ‘war on terrorism’ then cheap and speedy justice delivery system in Pakistan is a sine-quo-non.

Moreover, any body who has practiced law in courts knows that the following judicial reforms through legislation in Pakistan which follows judicial system similar to one in India are imperative, in the interest of cheap & speedy justice:-

(1) – Supreme Court should display at its notice board and also on its website the periodic (preferably quarterly) “consolidated report” of the status of all the cases in Pakistan. This consolidated report will be on the basis of “judicial work report” submitted by all the High Courts of Pakistan which will be prepared on the basis of “status report” of all the cases in Subordinate Courts (District and Lower
Courts) by District Courts submitted to respective High Courts and in which status of the various stages of all the categories of the pending cases will be projected. In this omputer age, the preparation of these reports is not at all a difficult task but it will be a major factor in making judicial system cheap & speedy.

(2)- Supreme Court, on the basis of this “consolidated report” will, if necessary, submit its recommendations & suggestions to the President of Pakistan and which will be sent by the president to the Federal and Provincial governments for consideration and necessary actions.

(3)- The main reason for costly and delayed justice is that the advocates at District Courts, High Courts and Supreme Court head quarters who live over there, distant from the direct eyes of the litigants, have been able to make the judicial system costly and delay prone mainly due to the reason that (i)- the advocates from villages and towns are half baked and (ii) the advocates from villages and towns and their clients do not have any cheap lodging & boarding facilities at these head quarters where they can pursue the cases as vigorously and at nominal cost as they do at lower court level in their villages and towns. Therefore this fatal lacuna of judicial system needs to be removed if the objective of cheap and speedy justice is to be achieved.

(4)- No advocate should be awarded “License to Practice” of full fledged advocate by High Courts / Supreme Court unless he / she practices for a minimum period in High Court / Supreme Court, because no advocate is worth the name unless he knows how to invoke the jurisdiction of the courts of records (what havoc the half baked advocates are inflicting on their clients in Subordinate Courts of India is only to be experienced to believe). Other advocates should be awarded “License to Practice” as deputy or assistant or junior or apprentice or any other such name by respective High Courts / Supreme Court.

(5)- Same advocate who fights case in lower court should be required to fight the case in District Courts and High Court / Supreme Court in appeal and revision, unless he is a full fledged advocate and is allowed to have associates at superior courts.

(6)- At very reasonable cheap rates for lodging and boarding, the rest houses (with library of law books, reporters and journals) should be built at District Courts and High Courts / Supreme Court where the advocates from villages and towns can come and stay in order to fight the appeals and revisions and writs. These advocate’s rest houses can
be administered by Bar Councils.

(7)- At very reasonable cheap rates for lodging and boarding, the rest houses should be built at district courts and High Courts / Supreme Court head quarters where the litigants from villages and towns can come and stay in order to fight the appeals and revisions and writs. These litigant’s rest houses can be administered by Bar Associations /

(8)- There should be a committee of High Court Judges in all the High Courts which will examine every case file (which will come to High Court in appeal or revision or writ proceedings) to check whether undue delay has been caused due to mischievous and unbecoming attitude of the presiding officers of the subordinate courts (and if so then
suitable strictures or punishments against such derelict presiding officers of the subordinate Courts). After High Court case proceedings are over, these requisitioned files should be allowed to be sent back to subordinate courts only when this committee puts its seal on it.