Law and justice in 100 days

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Comment

Ashraf Ansari

Prime Minister Imran Khan promised to break some ground in the first 100 days of his government as part of his ‘Programme Change’. His philosophy seems to establish credibility of his commitment to change based manifesto. For Imran, change means to stem the slide Pakistan suffers currently and take remedial measures. The main component of Imran’s ‘grand strategy’ needs to include improvement in the law and justice situation prevailing in the country. Unfortunately there is not much realisation among people about the relevance of law and justice to development and prosperity of the country. Some recent incidents staked the credibility of the government on its promise of change. The incidents among many others of the same nature do point to the need for reforms in the field of law and justice.
States thriving in the world are those where supremacy of law has become a guiding principle of the polity, where functionaries of the state are sensitive to the norms of law while discharging their responsibilities, where rules and regulations are framed in keeping with the imperatives of law and where basic purpose of the law is kept in mind by the policy makers.
The social evils in Pakistan are rooted deep in our centuries old culture of lawlessness. Lawlessness in terms of insufficient and sensible legislation, lack of updation, sluggishness of legal procedures, absence of inbuilt audit of law enforcement agencies and a check on delays in dispensation of justice.
As the countries progressed towards democratic development, their citizens became more and more conscious of the need to uphold the supremacy of law. They come to believe that all social functions must be regulated in accordance with law. The democratic countries have evolved procedures to make laws to fulfil emerging needs of the society. In feudal and tribal societies, perverted laws are enforced by the vested interests. Pakistan through a democratic country, has not been able to come out of its colonial and feudal hangover. The only option available to us is to promote democratic mindset in the country.
There should be legislation on all issues faced by the society and strict compliance. No bureaucrat should be left unaccountable. Most of the ills are committed by our bureaucrats when they blindly obey verbal orders of political leaders without caring for legal obligation or show disregard to law on personal account.
There are persistent violations of law by our government functionaries in various fields, but they are not prosecuted in the courts as required legislation is not available in such cases. Pakistan may follow the example of administrative courts set up in certain foreign countries to deal with bureaucratic aberrations. One common place instance is of land encroachments going unabated in the country. First there are not sufficient legislation to provide deterrent punishment to the encroachers and second all elements involved in the process are not taken to task. Another matter of public interest relates to delays in justice. All those responsible for delays should be accountable before law but the law does not address such issues. There are cases in the courts which are delayed for decades but the law does not move. Pakistan has to adopt a culture of law. Law is the key to our salvation. No other way.
The main dimensions of law and justice in our country calling for urgent attention are: lack of enforcement, lacunas in laws, legislative gaps, delays in the dispensation of justice, and bad laws. There has been Law and Justice Commission in the country for years but it has failed to address real issues relating to law and justice. Let us do something about this commission too.

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