Deficient justice system

PAKISTAN’S legal system is (in-)famous for its slow and inefficient handling of cases which requires urgent revamping in order to provide inexpensive and quick justice to the people and that too at their doorsteps. The very fact has also been certified by the World Justice Project (WJP), in its report for 2017-18 which out of 113 countries has listed Pakistan at number 107 in its evaluation of the country’s civil justice. However, the WJP, which claims to be an independent, multidisciplinary organization working to advance the rule of law around the world, places Pakistan at number 81 in its reckoning of this state’s criminal justice, obviously better than its civil justice.
The factor measuring civil justice assesses whether ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through this judicial system. It quantifies whether civil justice systems are accessible; affordable; and free of discrimination, corruption and improper influence by public officials. It examines whether court proceedings are conducted without unreasonable delay and decisions are enforced effectively. It also appreciates the accessibility, impartiality and effectiveness of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Given this barometer, Pakistan indeed lags far behind than many other countries and we hope that the findings of the WJP will stimulate some fresh thinking amongst the relevant quarters including the judges, parliamentarians and law reform experts to work towards bringing much needed reforms which primarily should begin from the subordinate judiciary where the backlog of cases has literally jammed the entire judicial system. Undoubtedly, the situation is grim but the reforms are possible. It is encouraging that the Chief Justice of Pakistan realizes that our legal system has problems that need solving and he time and again emphasized the need for bringing judicial reforms but for this he will also require the support of other stakeholders especially the elected representatives to do away with the obsolete laws. It is also important to ensure that any reforms that are undertaken help alleviate the problem without causing new ones. The Senate Committee of the Whole in the tenure of former Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani had formulated a series of recommendations for bringing reforms in the judicial system and indeed guidance can be taken from it in order to address the miseries and woes of litigants.

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