Fixing The Justice System | Editorial

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar’s acceptance of failure to fix the justice system as per expectations of the people is a welcome development. While addressing a gathering on Saturday, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) admitted that he may have failed to put his own house in order. The first step to resolve an issue is admitting that there is a problem to begin with. Many political observers were of the opinion that the CJP seems eager to act against misdoings in other institutions, but does not seem to have a plan for eliminating the loopholes in Pakistan’s justice system.
As per the latest statistics from the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, 38,539 cases are pending with the apex court, 293,947 with the five high courts and 1,869,886 cases with the subordinate judiciary of the four provinces and the federal capital. No steps have been taken to ease the sufferings of the citizens who have to wait for years to get their cases heard. Justice delayed — as they say — is justice denied.
Moreover, there have been several instances where the judiciary was not able to side with the weak. Several miscarriages of justice were witnessed and the black sheep in the lawyers’ fraternity who use their influence to protect criminals are yet to be held accountable. Recently, law student Khadija Siddiqui’s attacker was freed by the Lahore High Court (LHC) in a legally-flawed judgement, allegedly because the accused’s father, an influential lawyer, tried to manipulate the proceedings of the court. Although the CJP took notice of the acquittal, the problem of lawyers using their influence to escape from the law remains under-discussed. Since the CJP has now accepted that all is not well in the judiciary, he should do something about hindrance in delivery of justice to the public and corruption within the legal profession. Making justice accessible to the common man should be a priority.
Much has also been said on the ongoing judicial activism and some political forces have termed the judiciary’s recent decisions politically-motivated. CJP’s recent visit to a shrine in Jhang during the process of recounting in the constituency did raise a few eyebrows. At a time when the judiciary is being accused of having a role in the alleged political engineering, the top judge’s visit to an area where vote recounting was underway, does not give the right message. Apart from reforming the justice system, the CJP should be extra careful. *
Published in Daily Times, July 30th 2018.

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