Critical evaluation of justice system
ACCORDING to World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2020, Pakistan further lowered four positions in the global ranking of “Absence of Corruption”.
The World Justice Project (WJP) measures rule of law performance in 128 countries and jurisdictions across eight primary factors which also include civil justice and criminal justice system.
The other factors include; constraints on government powers, absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, etc.
The alarming part of the report of WJP is that, Pakistan is only ahead of Afghanistan in South Asia.
This is something which needs serious attention of the Government and the institutions associated with it.
Besides, Pakistan has been placed at 25th position out of total 30 states in the category of lower middle-income countries.
The report reveals that Pakistani position dropped down in three major areas; constraints on government powers, absence of corruption and open government. Despite such a bleak picture of the Pakistani state, there has been no worthwhile debate over the report of WJP.
The report has been filed without any inquiry from the departments and the people responsible for such a deliberate slackness in their respective areas of responsibilities.
While analysing the factor of absence of corruption, there are three forms of corruptions which have been considered: “bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources.”
Unfortunately, bribery is rampant in Pakistan with most of the government officials found involved into it while they are at executive positions.
Bribery is not considered as a crime, thus the people at executive positions considered it as their right.
It is over and above the perks and privileges, these people are enjoying from tax-payers money.
Improper influence by public or private interests groups is yet another crime which acts as a booster for the wider corrupt practices in Pakistan. Influencing the others for any illegal practice is common in Pakistan.
It is done by two main communities; the government officials, sitting at executives positions and the interest groups which influence the officials and even the members of the parliament for their vested interests. Such practices harm the state and institutions and benefit the individuals and interest groups.
Misappropriation of public funds and other resources of state and institutions is yet another serious crime that needs thoughtful and immediate attention. In the Pakistan, this is the most common practice goes without any check and accountability.
Such a practice is undertaken by all; the executives, judiciary, bureaucracy and even the ministers and MPs.
There are many such cases which are under investigation of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and trial courts.
The unfortunate aspect is that both; the courts and NAB have been found wanting in timely finalization and recovery of the national wealth plundered through misappropriation and fraudulent means.
While putting into debate, the judicial systems of Pakistan there are many grey areas which need serious discussion and review by neutral experts.
In the judicial systems reforms and betterment is needed at all level; lower/ trail courts, high courts and even at the level of Supreme Court.
Indeed, the primary purpose of the criminal justice system is to deliver an efficient, effective, accountable and fair justice process for the general public.
None of the abovementioned courts really disburse the justice to general public in the perspective of protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty.
Millions of cases are pending in courts for final disposal.
The statistics indicates that over three million cases of various natures are still pending for adjudication before the entire judiciary of the country.
These include; 19,362 cases of various natures including criminal, civil and constitutional petitions are pending before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Besides, there are 1,903 pending cases before the Federal Shariat Court (FSC).
“The backlog of cases before the Lahore High Court is 124,587. As many as 36,612 cases are pending before the Sindh High Court, whereas 9,776 cases are pending before the Peshawar High Court. As many as 5,619 cases are pending before the Baluchistan High Court.”
With such a justice system in placed in the country, millions of prisoners are languishing in various jails of Pakistan besides those physically free but mentally engaged and tortured people, waiting for the disposal of their criminal and civil cases.
With massive perks and privileges having huge salaries, the judiciary of Pakistan all level cannot attribute the undesired delay in the disbursement of justice with the lack of financial incentives for the judiciary.
It can be lack of will, competence or else the influence of the influential which block the disbursement of justice to ill-fated general public.
While the poor and deprived class of Pakistan awaits disposal of their cases for decades, the cases of judges and other influential people are processed and disposed-off over night. Besides, the disposal of cases on merit is mostly wanted in most of the cases.
In Pakistan, “The opposite of poverty is not wealth, it’s justice.” The prevailing justice system of Pakistan is both exploitative and despotic.
Indeed, it unduly rewards the elite class and influential at the expense of the poor which is against the golden principles of Islam and the essence of the Constitution of Pakistan.
Justice delayed is justice denied. The judicial system of Pakistan denies justice to the weak against the criminal excesses of the powerful in the society who can virtually get away with any major crime.
The elites and influential of Pakistani society are virtually calling shots at all level, supported by justice system of the state.
The judicial system of Pakistan needs an immediate review and major reforms to provide justice to everyone on merit without delay.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.