Essay on Judicial Reforms

Outline:

  • Introduction
  • Judiciary saving the country from disaster
  • Accountability action in judiciary
  • Blockage of cases and its solution the lesser number of benches of high courts
  • Need to provide better facilities, job conditions to judges
  • The need to free judiciary from the influence of the government

Judiciary, being the third pillar of a state, has an ever-significant role in the development of peace and tranquility in the state and is a sign of relief for those who are deprived of their rights of property or comfort. The role conferred to the judicial system by the state is to safeguard the fundamental rights of the masses viz-a-viz to formulate new laws and rules for dispensation of expeditious justice. It is only judiciary, which can preserve the chastity of the existing laws also. Thus the judiciary must be strong and unshakable enough to cope with the challenges of the rapidly changing conditions of the state and the people being its part.

In Pakistan, since its creation, it is only judiciary, after military, which the general people have been looking towards to save the country, as well as nation, from destruction and big disaster. Bold and unbiased decisions made by the High Courts and the Supreme Court proved the free and liberal status of the judiciary. But at the same time we have heard some objections about the decisions of the judges being bribed by the people of some higher positions or status also. These types of objections, irrespective of the fact being true or baseless, have always humiliated the judiciary in the eyes of the general people and intellectuals as well.

A matter of great satisfaction is that for about last three or four years we are observing that the accountability action in the judiciary iś at its heights. Whenever there is news of corruption or illegality based upon the bribery, bias, or personal liking or disliking of the judge of a subordinate court, strict measures are taken by the High Court and its administrative committee headed by his lordship Chief Justice. Such gestures show the keenness of the higher and supreme judiciary in eliminating corruption from the judiciary and to deliver justice in its full spirits.

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Despite the fact that the judiciary in Pakistan has gained much confidence of the public yet it needs some more reforms for its foundations to be more strong and its roots to be more deep in the society and to deliver transparent justice. Modern judicial systems of the world, consists of Bench and Bar. Both sides are collectively responsible for smooth running and proper functioning of the system. Expeditious dispensation of Justice; to the people’s doorsteps is the primary responsibility of a Government by appointing proper number of judges and by providing necessary conditions.

For the sake of providing speedy justice to public, Pakistan has received a huge loan of $ 350 million (Rs. 20 billions) from Asian Development Bank for large-scale judicial reforms in the name of “Access to Justice” Programme but failed desperately to utilize this loan. Senior Governance Specialist from Resident Mission of the ADB in Pakistan, Duglus Porter conveyed his concern to the Government; over under-utilization of a $ 350 million aid given for judicial reforms in Pakistan.

Punjab got Rs. 671 million out of which Rs. 337 million remained unutilized at the end, of the financial year. Sindh got Rs. 277 million but utilized only Rs. 41 million. KPK was given Rs. 226 million but used only Rs. 91 million. Balochistan got Rs. 124 million but used Rs. 61 million, The Centre also showed no interest in the utilization of Rs. 8.2 million for 2002-2004 allocated for execution of judicial reforms. The delay in the execution of judicial reforms is not because of a shortage of funds, but due to the rulers’ lack of will. The Government is dragging its feet on the reform agenda offering excuses of procedural delays.

There is no such example anywhere else in the world, where any government borrowed such a huge amount for judicial reforms. In fact any reforms in judicial system is a slow and steady process, for which motivation and commitment is of utmost importance, which is lacking in all participants involved in the process of legal reforms. To achieve the objectives of judicial and legal reforms, academia, Lawyers Community and judicial personnel must play their role and consider themselves duty bound to monitor utilization of these funds properly.

In fact, Lawyers’ community could not be given due attention. Lawyers’ community should strive for getting there due share and should envisage strategies for reforms in legal professional education for lawyers’ community. Incoming election of Punjab Bar Councils, only those candidates should be selected, who are capable to face the challenges of globalization and can endeavor for improvement of the judicial legal profession all over Pakistan and at the same time can take the responsibility of proper utilization of funds.

An ever-increasing blockage of cases in High Courts as well as in subordinate courts is a matter of grave concern. Generally, it is stressed that unless the number of judges does not commensurate with the number of pending cases, the backlog cannot be cleared. So it is, surely, the duty of the state to make the number of judges increased according to the number of cases pending in different courts in different areas of the country. This step of government will be no doubt, proved as a fore step towards the administration of real justice because when there is less burden of cases on the shoulders of a judge he will be more at ease to concentrate deeply into the facts of each case and will be able to make just decisions.

Another problem faced by the parties preferring appeals on the verdicts of lower courts is that the number of benches of High Court and other appellate tribunals of the different special courts is lesser. So the people of far-flung areas sometimes deprived of the right to appeal because of the fact that they can’t afford the expenditures of traveling frequently to appear before the Appellate Courts on different dates fixed for hearing and at the same time they find inability to pay the heavy fees of lawyers and expenditures to make them appear before the courts at a great distance it is against the principle of natural justice. The number of benches of High Courts and tribunals ought to be increased for the sake of convenience of the public and administration of justice as well. In this way the concept of justice at doorstep may be fulfilled.

Another area in which the state must take immediate steps in furtherance of promulgating expeditious justice is the provision of better facilities and job conditions for the judges. It must be appreciated that only a judge who is comfortable and at peace with himself can attend to his work in a satisfactory manner and produce better results. A judge who is hard pressed for his financial needs is never in a proper frame of mind to settle other’s problems or disputes.

Besides he is likely to develop an aversion towards rich litigants and wealthy lawyers apart from becoming vulnerable to temptations he. It is not surprising that the salaries of the judges in the pre-independence days in India actually enabled them to live like lords. The Englishmen knew the importance of freedom from financial worries and its bearing upon the dispensation of justice. Our state must also look into it and should take immediate remedial steps in this respect. If millions and trillions of rupees can be spent on import of luxury items, development projects and on defense then why cannot the state invest properly on the dispensation of justice, which, according to the Holy Quran, is the most important pillar of an Islamic state? Of course, the priorities in our society urgently need to be redefined.

The remuneration of the judges should be proportionate to the ever-increasing prices and to meet the utility needs of the living. The judges in most of cities also face accommodation problems. Official accommodation with basic facilities should be arranged as for as possible.

Another step towards the reforms of judiciary is to make it free from influence of the government and sovereigns. Our nation has observed such incidents of political cases when the decisions made by the judiciary thought to be influenced by the sovereigns. Such incidents are stain at the chastity of the judiciary so such experiences must be avoided in future. Another aspect of the same nature is appointment and elevation of the judges of High Courts and Supreme Court and presiding officers of certain tribunals. Such type of appointments are taken as doubtful from the aspect of freedom of judiciary as well as the honesty of a judge also becomes suspicious irrespective of the fact how much honest he is? So the appointment of the judges is an issue of sensitive nature, and the criterion for such appointments should be the seniority and ability of the persons for assuming this high esteemed post, and not the liking or disliking of a particular person.

Moreover, followings recommendations needed to be considered in this regard:

  • In fact, the first step in judicial reforms is the provision of best legal education and capacity building of academia. All possible measures for the provision of best quality legal education should be adopted. Syllabus of LL.B needs desperate modification in accordance with international standards.
  • To better avail international scholarships, Semester system and Marking/Credit system on the basis of the International or European Credit Transfer System be adopted.
  • Most Court competitions on inter-universities and at Pakistan’s levels should be properly organized.
  • Legal professional courses should be organized and conducted, for promoting professionalism and specialization, and for enhancing advocacy, communication and practice management skills and legal research methodology.
  • Government has provided just 2 computers with Internet access, for every District Bar Association. This quantity is very meager as compared to numbers of advocates and needs to be increased.
  • Importance of information technology should be realized and all bar councils in collaboration of international legal educational consortiums should organize online professional courses collectively.
  • For young motivated lawyers, intending to go abroad for higher Legal professional education, financial aid schemes in the shape of scholarships and interest-free loans should be arranged by their respective bar councils and provincial Governments.
  • In this way Pakistani Young Lawyers, be given the opportunity to illuminate the name of Pakistan on international forums.
  • Employability of Young Lawyers in different fields should be increased.
  • Other similar measures also needed to be adopted.

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