CJP’s resolve for judicial reforms

MANY pronouncements made earlier about judicial reforms by honourable judges including the heads of judiciary are on record yet the problems, especially at the subordinate courts, embroiling the litigants into an unending cycle of delays and adjournments continue to haunt the people even today. In 2009, the National Judicial Policy — brain-child of former CJP Iftikhar Chaudhary —was formulated to address the perennial twin problems of backlog and delays in the administration of justice but nine years later, total pendency of cases has only further widened much to the desperation of the people.
Now the incumbent Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Sadiq Nisar has taken on his shoulders the responsibility of bringing judicial reforms to fruition. The task is gigantic but very much doable if other organs of the State also extend him a helping hand in this endeavour with the aim to establish such a strong homegrown system that ensures early disposal of cases at all hierarchy of judiciary without comprising on the basic tenets of justice. The launch of judicial reforms this time around is also very significant as the CJP chose the city of Quaid and also paid homage at the Mausoleum of the Father of the Nation on Saturday to mark the onset of the process, thus implying that while getting inspiration from the Quaid, he is committed to taking the goal to its logical conclusion. In fact since assuming the office, we have seen the CJP taking notices of important matters ranging from contaminated water and substandard milk to the issues of private medical colleges and domestic violence etc. This indeed has inculcated confidence amongst the masses that the apex court is there to protect their fundamental rights while other institutions falter.
But at the same time on Saturday while addressing the media, the CJP very unequivocally made it clear that the judiciary will not intervene in the domain of the legislature. He rather asked Parliament to assist in bringing improvement in the legal system by framing laws that outdo the centuries’ old British laws that are no longer applicable. Indeed the problems will not arise if all the institutions work within their domain and rather support each other in advancing the cause of providing relief to the people. In reality no legal reform is possible without simultaneously reforming the laws, good governance, reforms in bureaucracy, police reforms etc. For this, the federal and provincial governments and the bench and the bar will have to do their part to realise the ultimate objective. While we have no doubt that the CJP would have done the proper homework before launching the reforms initiative but documents such as the one prepared by the Senate on Provision of Inexpensive and Speedy Justice could also serve as a way forward as it carries very pertinent and concrete suggestions to take the matters towards improvement. We will also suggest that the idea of evening courts should be implemented forthwith besides steps need to be taken to address the problem of shortage of judges both at district and higher courts in order to reduce the workload on existing courts.
Since poor and weak cannot afford legal battles, it is also incumbent upon governments in the centre and the province to establish special funds for their assistance. The CJP praised Punjab’s justice system, which is using information technology to keep track of cases that are registered in courts. Other provinces should also replicate the same in order to ensure that all cases are dealt with as quickly as possible. The incumbent CJP still has one year in office and we pray that he succeeds in the mission he has embarked upon so that ordinary people could also heave a sigh of relief in their lives.

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