ISLAMABAD: The Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, said that the administration of justice is the duty of the state which is being exercised through the judicial system.
“A strong judicial system ensures upholding of rights of the people and constitutionalism,” said the chief justice while chairing a meeting of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) held on Saturday in the Supreme Court building.
The CJ added that our existing procedural laws are decades old and are unable to keep pace with the emerging realities and necessitate reforms.
Meanwhile, the LJCP recommended 14 years rigorous imprisonment (RI) for those who tend to give or demand women and young girls in marriage for settling disputes through Jirgas and Punchayats.
Taking a serious note of the practice of giving women and young girls in marriage as a badal-i-sulha on the intervention of Jirga and Punchayats, the Commission recommended that whoever gives, abets, instigates, demands, or receives a female in marriage as a badal-i-sulha shall be punished with rigorous punishment which may extend to 14 years but shall not be less than 10 years and a fine.
The commission also recommended an immediate increase in the number of judges of the district judiciary in order to allay the concerns of an ordinary litigant and to meet the challenges of growing litigation. It observed that it is the obligation of the State to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice under Article 37(d) of the Constitution.
The Commission decided that federal and provincial governments should allocate additional grants to increase the strength of judges, allied staff and related infrastructure in the forthcoming budget to cope with the increasing litigation.
The CJ further stated that recent rapid development of technology and socio political changes in the region have confronted our judicial system with new challenges and increased the need for modernization and simplification of laws to ensure inexpensive and speedy justice as enshrined in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The Commission observed that due to non-availability of execution powers to the service tribunals, the litigants have to approach high courts for redressal of their grievances and implementation of orders passed by the Service Tribunal.
Taking into consideration the difficulties of civil servants in getting execution of orders of service tribunals, the Commission recommended that powers to execute its order should be bestowed on service Tribunals.
The Commission also considered the deteriorating standard of investigation in criminal cases and its bad effect on the overall criminal justice system.
The Commission observed that investigation is being conducted in casual manner or deliberately legal flaws are left in the investigation to accommodate criminals.
This practice is not only earning bad name to the government but also shaking the confidence of general public in the formal justice system. The Commission recommended that a penal section may be inserted in the Pakistan Penal Code to punish delinquent investigating officers who fails to carry out the investigation diligently in accordance with law.
The Commission also considered proposal for protection of christian spouses from the agony of pursuing their family disputes before the overburden civil courts under the Divorce Act 1869 and recommended an amendment to the Family Court Act 1964, enabling the family courts to try their family cases under relevant law.
To ensure proper maintenance and welfare of minors whose custody have been given to the guardians under Guardian and Ward Act, the Commission recommended that relevant rules may be amended to compel the guardian to produce the ward (either male or female) before the court quarterly to make it aware about the condition wherein he or she is brought up.
The Commission also proposed amendments to the Vaccination Law to enhance its scope and repeal of obsolete provisions. The Commission also recommended amendment in section 89(A) Code of Civil Procedure 1908 to provide procedure for resolution of disputes through alternate disputes resolution methods.
The Commission also approved accounts and expenditure of Access to Justice Development Fund.
The meeting was attended by members of the Commission, including Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court; Irfan Qadir, Attorney General for Pakistan; Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice High Court of Balochistan; Justice Mushir Alam, Chief Justice, High Court of Sindh; Justice Sh Azmat Saeed, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court; Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court; Yasmin Abbasey, Secretary, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary †Affairs; Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court, attended the meeting on special invitation.
Besides, Justice (r) Abdul Karim Khan Kundi, former Judge, Peshawar High Court; Abid Hassan Minto, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan and Syed Iqbal Haider, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of Pakistan also attended the meeting for the first time after their appointment as a member of the Commission.