THE Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has extended its wholehearted support to the efforts of the PTI Government to introduce legal reforms in the country. An assurance to this effect was given when a delegation of SCBA, led by its Secretary Ahmed Shehzad Farooq Rana, met with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday. SCBA President Lateef Afridi, however, avoided attending the meeting.
PTI, in its election manifesto (2018), vowed to launch a judicial reforms programme that will provide speedy and quality justice to all citizens.
Noting that laws and procedures in Pakistan are weak, archaic, ineffective and have been amended in a piecemeal manner, it pledged to address issues like capacity constraints and growing caseload through availability of necessary resources, legal reforms and consultations with the judiciary and the provincial governments.
A beginning was made when a task force was constituted under Law Minister Dr. Farogh Naseem to propose laws with the primary objective to alleviate the hardships of people of Pakistan.
In line with its recommendations, some progress has been made especially in the case of protection of women property rights, setting up of a legal aid mechanism for the poor and vulnerable and a mechanism for issuance of succession certificates by National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
However, the fundamental problems of proverbial delays in dispensation of justice, continued increase in cases at all tiers of the judiciary, legal lacunae, complicated procedures and rampant corruption in the system are still there as before and in some cases the situation has deteriorated further due to weak governance.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has rightly pointed out that in the past, people with vested interests misused law and the rich and powerful class remained free from the grip of the law, adding that the present government was reforming civil and criminal laws so that relief could be provided to the common man.
No doubt, the Government is facing some obstacles in the way of implementation of its manifesto and pledges as it lacks majority in the Upper House of Parliament but legal and judicial reforms is a bipartisan issue and the Government can enlist support of the opposition if it is taken on board with sincere intentions.
Apart from the legal community, the Government should also seek input from all stakeholders including the opposition to make the process of reforms smooth and meaningful.
It is also time the Government implements its widely publicized claims about reformation of the police system as working of the force is intrinsically linked to the quality of justice and speedy disposal of cases.
A majority of those who are wronged prefer remaining silent because of corruption in police and exorbitant cost of litigation which warrants a system for free legal aid of, at least, deserving people.