The problem of delayed justice system is not new, but as old as Pakistan. Many attempts have made by eminent jurists, scholars, law commissions and committees constituted by different governments to counter the problem but to no avail. The problem once again came to limelight as some courts’ judgments were so strange, raising many eyebrows in lawyers’ fraternity and concerned sections of society. The new Chief Justice of Supreme Court would do a great service if he takes this issue seriously and finds a solution to it.
Firstly, the problem is stuck in the police department. After lodging of FIR, the police is the first executive agency, especially in criminal cases, which reach the crime scene for investigation. The investigation is the first step in a criminal case which is the primary administrative duty of the police to do. In fact, the investigation is evidence which leads the court to a just and fair conclusion about the guilt or innocence of an accused person. Theinvestigation consists of proceeding to the spot, ascertainment of the facts, a collection of evidence, search of place or seizure of things used in the commission of the crime, and arrest of the suspected, if possible. The investigation is conductedby an investigation officer (IO) who is hardly Metric or FSC. The IO does not know the ABC of investigation on which speedy and fair trail is entirely dependent.
For the speedy and fairtrail, we need a separate special investigation police department. Such investigation police shall be liable to district police officer in their administrative duty as general police, but their main duty shall be circumscribed to the only inquiry. Qualification for the police shall be graduation in Law from are cognised university. Such investigation police shall be trained by competent judges and lawyers in judicial academies to teach them those special techniques and skills which are used in investigation. A collection of evidence by such police will be authentic and accurate and will facilitate a judge to reach to a decree.
Judiciary in Pakistan at the district level is itself a hurdle in the way of speedy justice. It’s hosting three kinds of problems like an insufficient number of judges in the districts, recruitment of inexperienced or functionally illiterate judges with no specialisation required over the civil or criminal branch.
Inadequate physical and human infrastructure is also an inability of the courts to keep up with the growing population and litigation demand. Crimes ratio is increasing day by day due to weak law and order. The number of judges in district courts is also a problem. According to the website of Peshawar High Court, by the end of October 2016, around 33,302, cases were pending before the high court whereas 187,840 cases were pending before district courts. So every provincial government is required to recruit a sufficient number of judges at the district level to clear the backlog of the cases.
Most judges in district courts are fresh graduates of law having no vigorous practical experience as a lawyer. Such fresh graduates face problems in dealing with complications of cases of complex technical nature. Recently, KP government has recruited civil judges for which two years qualification was a must as a district lawyer. Most of the hired judges have licenses but no experience as in the two years they would do the job in other institutions rather than practice in court. So we need to recruit those persons as judges whose practice is not only limited to license but the practical field as well. A mechanism is required to be devised for this problem.
Specialisation and expertise over criminal or civil branches of law are also an essential point. Such options shall be given to them at the beginning of training in judicial academies to pick one field of their choice willingly and then, expert lawyers of relevant fields (civil, criminal) shall be called to judicial academy to guide and teach them about all those technicalities which they will face. They shall perform their duties in the specialised field (civil or criminal) till retirement. Such specialisation will significantly help in the speedy delivery of justice.
Time limitation for a declaration of the decree for both civil and criminal cases is also needed to be introduced. For this purpose, our parliamentarians need to do a legislation in which they specify a specific time for judges for the solution of a case and to bind them not to postpone the unnecessary hearing of a case on demand of lawyers. The specific time must be reasonable, not too short to defeat the maxim, “Justice hurried is justice buried,” and not so lengthy to defeat the concept of “Justice delayed is justice denied”. Such kind of legislation shall also bind the lawyers’ fraternity to represent their plaintiffs on the day of hearing strictly. Former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry had introduced national judicial policy with an aim to resolve civil and criminal cases within fixed time but failed. Such kind of legislation can vigorously support us in delayed justice system.
Protection of judges is also extremely important. Many judges have lost their lives including Maqbool Baqi and Judge Zulfiqar Naqvi in 2014. Judges protection means to protect their lives in court, out of court and to protect their family members as well.
The introduction of protection of witness’s program is also critical, especially in criminal cases in the model of the U.S Witness Security Program or WITSEC which is protected under Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. The role of witnesses in criminal and civil cases are of a backbone. In the event of non-protection,witnesses do not like to come before the court to give testimony against the other part as they are threatened. In the cases of Ajmal Pahari, Kamran Madhuri and Wali Baber, all eye witnesses were killed systematically by the opposite party because of the absence of any security mechanism for them.
The new chief justice with the help of government is requested to take the problem of delayed justice seriously and discuss it with Bars, eminent jurists and lawyers to derive out a permanent solution for it.
The writer is a law student at Islamia College University, Peshawar and can be reached at email@example.com