MABAD (Agencies) Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said on Sunday that it is often misunderstood that the judiciary acts against the measures and steps of the executive but it is the Constitution which provides this important role to the judiciary to regulate the state machinery.
Chief Justice Iftikhar said independent judiciary could provide strength to all institutions of the state, he said while addressing the concluding session of the 4th National Judicial Conference here.
The CJ said that public confidence is evident from the increase in litigation. These expectations require more sense of responsibility, both on the part of the bench as well as the bar. The constitution provides important role to the judiciary to activate the others institutions to act upon the law.
He said that the winning of confidence and the great expectations of the public have resulted in the bulk of litigation. The delay although inevitable due to inadequate strength and capacity of courts, yet is of great concern.
We are aware that we do not have an adequate infrastructure and the facilities in terms of courtrooms, libraries and trained staff. We also do not have full and effective utilisation of the information communication technologies in our judicial system, the Chief Justice added
The Chief Justice said that it is not only the system but the man behind the system which plays the key role in its success. The judicial officers with cooperation of other stakeholders should take steps for improvement in the court management system under the guidelines issued by the policy. The Bar must also come forward by installing the Court automation equipment for the benefit of its members to march forward in the new era of information technology to expedite the trial proceedings in the courts.
He said that delay in the dispensation of justice is not only the matter of alarm in Pakistani society but this global issue knows no bounds and limits of the time and place in the voyage of history. Almost all the nations of the world have faced this problem. This may alienate the public from approaching the courts for the redress of their grievances, he added.
He said that that the judiciary has inherited the tradition of dedicated collective endeavour of the bench and bar and should strive to establish unbreakable chain of cooperation for greater efficiency, integrity and independence. Since the lawyers movement, our judicial system has earned a reputation for great integrity. Our constitution stresses upon the right to life, liberty, property and also guarantees freedom of thought, expression and profession. All just and fair opportunity shall be provided to every citizen to attain his or her fundamental rights and freedom, the CJ added.
He was of the view that the judiciary is an important pillar and backbone of the state. Independent judiciary is the prerequisite for a stronger nation. The judiciary can be stronger only if all the stakeholders show an absolute commitment, dedication, character, professionalism and vision to work as a mission to face the difficulties and meet challenges. He said that it is presumed that the law and peoples aspirations should march in the same direction. The judiciary, through the inherent power of judicial review, oversees the march of law.
Chief Justice Iftikhar said that rule of law has a substantial impact on the economic development. Strong constitutional and legal framework is all the more necessary to establish the rule of law.
He said that multidimensional approach must be adopted for further improving the implementation of the policy, taking into account the current areas needed to be addressed. Dialogue between the bench, the bar and other stakeholders should be encouraged by creating a sense of ownership about the policy.
Our judicial system is constantly exposed to new, complex and multidimensional challenges. The outcome of this conference certainly will help us meet these challenges, the Chief Justice added.
The participants of the National Judicial Conference on Sunday presented their recommendations at the concluding day which were read out by the Chairman National Judicial (Policy-Making) Committee, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.
He said that he would be keenly looking forward to present these recommendations before the National Judicial (Policy-Making) Committee for follow up action which, he was sure, would greatly contribute for further improvement in the working of judicial administration of the country.
Following were the recommendations: Public interest litigation would be more successful with separate benches of judges established to hear human rights cases for a specified time, the involvement of commissions to share the burden of the judiciary, adoption of procedural rules by the Supreme Court to channelise the cases, awareness amongst the legal fraternity to report the cases of human rights violation to the High Courts, holding of preliminary inquiry before taking suo moto action.
The Bench and the Bar should work in a friendly atmosphere while maintaining a professional distance along with dignity, appreciation and respect for each other. The measures of deterrence, prevention and education should be applied to counter corruption. It is necessary to strengthen the surveillance systems of the Courts especially at district level. Malicious and false accusations against the good name of the judicial officers should be strictly discouraged and addressed
with disciplinary action.
The Bench and the Bar should jointly formulate and propose credible amendments in the existing laws/rules for ADR as there is a pressing need for inexpensive and effective ADR mechanism. Awareness campaigns and programmes must be launched to ensure that the public-at-large is aware of the benefits of ADR. Judges should be trained to effectively employ ADR mechanism.
There is a dire need for reformation of jails to provide an opportunity to the convicts to provide such an environment to them so that after serving their term they should be reintegrated into society as responsible and law-abiding citizens. The prisoners should be treated humanely and their recognised rights should be protected. The jail manual is a comprehensive document but many of its provisions are not being enforced, jail authorities should ensure that the same is followed. Women and juveniles are particularly vulnerable members of society and therefore requisite care should be taken with them.
Plagiarism and counterfeiting should be treated as theft, deception and robbery. This calls for a review of our ethical attitudes towards the IPR Laws among the general public and the intellectual property owners by all available means. Counterfeiting medicines, syringes, health care devices, diagnostic kits, and other related medical equipment should be declared serious offences against humanity with enhanced punishment.
The curriculum of legal education should be so designed that it should just not be skill based but should also pave ways for our future legal jurists. A Council or Committee comprising all the stakeholders should be constituted with the responsibility of formulating a National Legal Education Policy to be designated as National Legal Council. Continuing legal education for members of the Bench and the Bar should be augmented at all levels.
State of the Art and contextually relevant information technology must be used to solve the widely known problems of the Pakistani Justice System, which brought the system on the brink of disaster. The power of IT should be harnessed in court management and case management to subsequently improve the litigants court experience.
To this end, the National Judicial Automation Committee should be empowered to play a leading role in conjunction with justice sector IT experts both in the Public and Private sector.
The closing ceremony was attended by judges of the Supreme Court, Chief Justices and Judges of the Federal Shariah Court and High Courts, the District Judiciary office-bearers and members of the Bar Councils and Bar Associations of Pakistan and India.