Justice, justice but where is justice
Akhtar Ali Kureshi
After the successful lawyers' movement and restoration of Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other deposed judges, it was considered that justice will be delivered instantly, more easily and cheaply to every body. It was also hoped that a new system of merit-based appointments in the judiciary and its related departments i.e. attorney general, advocate generals, prosecutors and legal advisors will be evolved to make the society more civilized and useful. And these were deserving expectations of general public, lawyers and bar associations. Similarly, it will be a vital source of eliminating frustration and disappointment from the country. Quick and cheap justice is always a sweet dream for the poor Pakistanis but it was never ever attained and it looks impossible due to mischievous system and mafia, holding key positions in our courts.
Corruption is another major problem in our courts. In the subordinate courts, it is still growing and no person can get the copies of stay order, bail order and other court's proceedings without paying a heavy amount to the courts' staff, etc. This fact can be seen in our courts and I would like to quote an example of my younger brother who got a stay order from the civil court in his favour and it was told that copy of stay order will be available to him after two or three days. But when he paid a heavy amount to the staff, he got the copy instantly and concerned court's official accompanied him to deliver the copy of the stay order to the defendants. Therefore, mere saying that corruption has been eliminated from courts and everything is going fine, is not correct, and justice is far away from us. We have not developed any digitalization of the judicial system which is the only method of elimination of corruption and bad practice prevailing in our judicial system. While going in the court for legal proceeding either way, it was not a pleasant experience apart from the bitter fact whether instant and cheap justice is available in our courts is a matter of serious question mark to all of us, particularly for the government and the Chief Justice of Pakistan who is endeavouring to make it easy.
The implementation of judicial policy may facilitate the litigants to decide his case as early as possible but there is need to improve the courts' environment to curtail the fatigue of litigants and provide him fair, equitable and comfortable atmosphere. It was argued many times that without having digital and web-based judicial system coupled with proper check and balance, we cannot end the grievances of the public at large. One main thing is missing that police is also part and parcel of the criminal justice and it is quite a difficult task to get register an FIR unless an application should have been filed before the sessions judge under section 22 A & 22 B, Cr.PC. It is a mockery of our system and failure of judicial policy which frustrates the start of the legal action against the wrong doer.
Delivering the justice is a complete social science and its easy mechanism gives peace of mind to the justice seeker as well as its stakeholders. Independent judiciary and its basic infrastructure i.e. adequate strength of qualified judges, well trained courts staff, spacious buildings, computer orientations, impeccable communication networking, web-based proceedings, bar rooms, Library, proper parking and state of the art security, are the main ingredients to secure the desired results.
The impact of the Supreme Court judgment of July 31, 2009 made the Lahore High Court empty as about 48 judges were ousted, including PCO and newly appointed judges of former Chief Justice Dogar, since then about 40 vacancies are lying vacant and working of the Lahore High Court is badly disturbed. In other words, at this juncture, we may say that one way we are moving one step ahead and badly slipped two steps back due to non-cooperation of different stakeholders in the speedy justice to all. Similarly, the political appointments in the judiciary washed away the concept of equity and merit.
Now it become necessary to re-set the line of direction to make easy way of reaching to a competent court for justice and the court instantly deliver justice on merits of the case. The courts should provide a corruption free access to every person with the impression that justice delivered is the basic right of every litigant. This process of getting justice should be very impressive and quick coupled with a memorable pleasant experience of visiting a court without any hesitation. The symbolic course of justice will create a free and open atmosphere in the society that the courts are independent and powerful if somebody will break the law, he will not escape scot free and the fascinating justice will emerge on the surface.
The writer is an Advocate of Supreme Court of Pakistan, Clinical Professor of Law, Freelance Columnist, Member of International Bar Association, London and former Assistant Advocate General Punjab