Streamlining The Ministerial Establishment of Courts In Pakistan: A study about the subordinate staff of judiciary in Pakistan
From stone-age to too fast and complex technological age, human beings has traveled a lot of distance and are still not willing to rest at a particular place. This restless nature of human beings has made them suffer with the passage of time. And in the present era, due to abrupt changes in the surroundings and in the life style of people/s, they have become more and more unsafe and the need for their protection and delivery of speedy justice has increased.
Majority of the people either live in villages or have a direct or indirect relation with the villages in Pakistan. The overall percentage of literate people is much less than the illiterate. The nature of disputes in villages varies from very small and simple issues to the most complex issues. The instances of infringement of rights have increased both in the villages and in the urban areas. The nature of crimes varies from very small to intense.
However, where ever the rights are infringed, in whatever way they may be, the people who feel aggrieved only have the choice to move to some highly respectable forum to seek the redress of their grievances and finally to seek justice.
This game of justice and injustice revolves around human beings. The players of this game are parties to the dispute: lawyers, judges, peace keepers i.e., the police and the administration of locality.
The lawyers and judges, in dispensation of justice are assisted by a number of persons in the court. Most of them are among the staff of the court called ‘Ministers of the Court’ or in other words ‘Ministerial Establishment’.
In this study [which will be published in near future], the focus of consideration is the ‘Ministers of the Court’, their job descriptions, the law and the rules behind them, their working, problems faced by them, the grievances of public at large, the opinion of public at large about them, the rapidly changing world and the need of time, on-job-training and education and training of the judicial staff.
Whenever people are aggrieved of another and find no other way to resolve their dispute, they decide to move to the court of law. In doing so, they either walk towards their lawyer or towards the record room or other concerned persons in order to obtain the evidence in support of their claim. Then, after finding the record about their dispute, they moves towards the institution of the suit and if any offence has been committed, they move towards the police station or towards the area magistrate. After drafting and preparation of their case, their first encounter is with ‘Ministerial Establishment’ i.e., the staff of the court and a common village person considers them to be their ultimate saviors and often place them at the top of their high priority list.
A court in the present times, without active working and involvement of the Ministerial Establishment is likely to provide complete injustice to people.
It is this Ministerial Establishment of Courts that is of utmost importance, and if it is streamlined, the process of seeking and giving justice works smoothly, otherwise, it halts abruptly.
Citizen Oriented Services Through Better Working
4.1- Redress of grievances by the Ministerial Establishment
Where it is a fact that the Ministerial Establishment of subordinate courts is not a body of judges being Presiding Officers of the courts providing redress of grievances of public at large, it is also a fact that they are the wheels of justice: the better they work, the best wood be the result and vice-a-versa.
Anyone who knocks the doors of justice, in fact, first knocks at the door of Ministerial Establishment, where his or her first encounter is with the COC, Reader of Court, Ahlmad, Qasid/Naib Qasid and Peon. These are the people who have to show him or her the right path keeping in view the needs, demands and restrictions imposed upon them by the law and rules.
Keeping all the above in mind, their kind attitude, polite language, open mindedness, open heartiness and their own moral standards can become heaven for poor, needy and aggrieved persons. This is how they can redress their grievances.
4.2- The Ministerial Establishment to act as a model for others
Allama Iqbal has said “kabhi a nojawaan muslim, tadabur bhi kia toonay, who kia gadroon tha too jiss ka hay ik toota hua taara ”. We, first as a Muslim and second as a nation have lacked behind in almost all aspects of life, except corruption. On the other hand, the west, by following our footprints, has moved beyond us. It is quite unfortunate for us that we have to look at them in order to know why they are being considered as the ‘Model Judiciary’ and ‘Model Ministerial Establishment.’ The reason is that they are committed and persistent in their working.
As has already been discussed, Ministerial Establishment is the first destination of most people. Every person who comes to the court with a claim believes that he or she is moving towards and activating a forum which is just for all and it is his or her belief that it will provide both mental and material satisfaction to him or her by redressing the grievance in an exemplary way. But all of these simple innocent beliefs are shattered to pieces. In this way, the ‘Ministerial Establishment’, which should have been a perfect model, becomes the worst model.
4.3- The Ministerial Establishment to be generous in providing information
It has been observed in practice that most of the members of Ministerial Establishment do not help and do not guide people in a proper and legal way and it seems that they do not feel good when people come to them and ask different questions. The Ministerial Staff should help and guide the people open-heartedly.
4.4-The Ministerial Establishment should follow the law, not whims
It has been observed in practice that most of the members of Ministerial Establishment, whether they belong to a higher grade or lower grade, consider themselves as superior personalities and sometimes, even believe themselves to be over and above the law. It has been observed in practice that there are few members of the Ministerial Establishment such as Reader, Ahlmad and Process Servers with whom most of the litigating parties are in direct interaction. These are the people to whom most of the litigating parties address their queries, compliance of procedure and for other related matters. But, they often work in accordance with their own whims. This whimsical attitude frustrates the litigating parties and has built a notion that the whole process of obtaining justice is polluted and corrupted. The Ministerial Establishment should strictly follow the law and not their whims.
4.5- The Ministerial Establishment should avoid feudalistic attitudes
Pakistan obtained independence in the name of Islam but could not, in the whole fifty years, get rid of nor even reduce the feudalistic attitude from all corners. This led to the creation of a so-called feudalistic behavior even in those people who are not feudal lords. A majority of the population of Pakistan lives in villages and belongs to villages and their major source of income comes from agriculture. The members of Ministerial Establishment, as has been observed in practice, could not get rid of that feudalistic behavior that has crept into their very own lifestyles. This behavior reduces their working capacities and increases their sitting capacities. Such types of people are less fruitful. It is advised that the members of Ministerial Establishment, that if it is impossible to get rid of that feudalistic attitude, they should at least reduce it and work honestly and efficiently.
4.6-The Ministerial Establishment should not be an obstacle in the way of litigating parties and the judge sitting in the court
There must be a reasonable distance between the litigating parties and the Presiding Officer of the court. But it has been observed that the litigating parties, who are appearing in person before the judge are often disrespected by the Ministerial Establishment and are often stopped at the door of a court room. In addition, they are not provided easy access to the Reader of the Court. This practice should be avoided and whenever their case is called by the Presiding Officer of the court, they should be guided by the Ministerial Establishment, most particularly the Qasid/Naib Qasid or Peon about where to stand when they are to appear in front of the judge. Ministerial Establishment should ensure that the decorum of court is maintained at all times, and try to secure the court.
4.7-The Ministerial Establishment should treat the litigating parties and the accused persons with respect
As has already been pointed out earlier, the Ministerial Establishment is often disrespectful with the people in general. It is also necessary to point out here that when an accused person is produced before the Magistrate, he or she is considered to be a born criminal by the police and the Ministerial Establishment as well. This is not how the accused should be looked at– nobody is a born criminal. The Ministerial Establishment should be helpful to the accused as it is to other litigating parties.
4.8- The Ministerial Establishment should guide and help the litigating party about the procedural details
It is the duty of the Ministerial Establishment of all grades to guide people about the procedural details and should let them know about the procedural technicalities, keeping in mind, the restrictions imposed upon them by the law and rules. The Ministerial Establishment has to act as if they are nursing a patient.
4.9-The Ministerial Establishment should arrange for the sitting with respect for the litigating parties, most particularly women
The Reader of Court, Qasid, Naib Qasid should ensure that the place reserved for lawyers is occupied by the lawyers only and the litigating parties are seated at the place reserved, if any, for the litigating parties. The women appearing in cases should be highly respected and should be provided a proper and safe place for sitting.
4.10-The Ministerial Establishment should help and guide the litigating parties in obtaining the required copies of record and pleadings
A litigating party who appears in the court is in need of photostat copies of the proceedings going on in the court. The Ministerial Establishment should guide and inform the people about the legal procedure for obtaining the certified copies of the judicial files. The judicial files should not be left in the possession of parties alone.
4.11- The Ministerial Establishment should properly maintain and preserve the case files
The Ahlmad of the court is the person who is in possession of the majority of the judicial records and case files. The Ahlmad should perform the required duties, justly, properly and legally so that the whole judicial record is properly preserved and that no record is lost.
4.12- The Ministerial Establishment concerned should carefully study the orders passed by the judge and ensure for their proper compliance
It has been observed that the Ministerial Establishment often acts against the orders of the court and often the orders of the court are not complied with. As a result, most of the times, they are called in the court and inquired about their non-compliance with such orders. This creates frustration, both for the lawyers and the litigating parties and more often than not, it becomes a major cause of delay, which must be avoided at all times.
4.13-The Ministerial Establishment must preserve the old registers
Although, there is a detailed procedure laid down about the possession and maintenance of judicial registers, there is no mention about the handing over of judicial registers to the concerned authorities. It has been observed in practice, that whenever a court is abolished, the judge and Ahlmad of the court is transferred, and the judicial files and registers are are not taken care of, which results in them getting lost. In such situations, the Ahlmads, who are the custodians of the judicial records, do not take care of old registers, which are often thrown on the roof of a court house, as has been observed in few districts. The parties, and the lawyers in such of old registers, in this situation often face huge difficulties. This practice must be abolished and the Ahlmad should properly manage and control the registers in all situations and the judicial records should be handed over to the concerned person.
Under Rule 8, Chapter 24, Volume IV of High Court Rules and Orders, “The ‘Execution Muharrir of each court shall be responsible for the safe custody of old volumes of Civil Register No.1 till they are consigned to the Record Room. The officials who maintain the other registers should be responsible for the safe custody of old volumes of them.”
4.14- The Ministerial Establishment is accountable
No one is over and above the law. Every person is accountable both in this world and in the hereafter. So is the Ministerial Establishment. High Court’s rules and orders have prescribed a proper procedure and punishments for the Ministerial Establishment, if they act in violation of the law and the rules.
4.15- The Ministerial Establishment to be knowledgeable and trained
An efficient working demands proper knowledge, training and experience. The Ministerial Establishment in Pakistan is not trained. They must be trained so that they know the law, rules and procedures guiding their official work. An effort was made in the past to train the Ministerial Establishment of Courts in the Federal Judicial Academy but unfortunately it was not implemented and remained just a paper work, which seems to have been buried. Anyhow, this book provides material for training the Ministerial Establishment of Courts. They must be trained regularly in Federal and Provincial Judicial Academies.
Know The Ethics and Cannons
5.1-Conduct with regard to other staff of Ministerial Establishment
1. It is the duty of every staff member of the Ministerial Establishment to uphold at all times, the dignity and high standing of the profession, as well as dignity and high standing as a member of Ministerial Establishment.
2. A member of the Ministerial Establishment should not consider his profession and his position as a business concern but on the other hand the member should acknowledge that he or she is an important part of the most worthy and highly respectable profession.
3. A member of the Ministerial Establishment should keep in mind that a case should not be discussed at length outside the court room with other unrelated persons and unrelated members of Ministerial Establishment.
4. A member of Ministerial Establishment, while performing official responsibilities should freely and open-heartedly, without any greed, communicate with the other concerned Ministerial Staff.
5. A member of Ministerial Establishment should not take any money, in any form, for an unlawful purpose, to the prejudice of either party from any other Ministerial Officer and any person.
6. All members of Ministerial establishment of subordinate courts should be highly respectful to each other.
7. All members of Ministerial Establishment of subordinate courts should not use abusive language with each other.
8. The interaction between the members of Ministerial Establishment should be speedy and productive.
5.2-Conduct with regard to Litigating Parties
1. The members of Ministerial Establishment, as a whole, should keep in mind that every person of every creed, culture and cost is a respectable person. And that no person is a born criminal. Therefore, every person must be respected.
2. The members of Ministerial Establishment, as a whole should keep in mind that almost 90 percent of the litigating parties are not aware of the day to day procedure of courts. They must be guided and helped in a proper way.
3. The members of Ministerial Establishment should not take money in the form of bribery from the litigating parties. The members of Ministerial Establishment should not consider the litigating parties as ‘golden birds’.
4. The members of Ministerial Establishment should not misguide the litigating parties by promising them an early and speedy disposal of their case or cases in their favor.
5. The members of Ministerial Establishment should not take money from the litigating parties by saying to them that they will arrange an advocate for them to represent them in the court of law.
6. Any member of the Ministerial Establishment shall not advise the violation of any law.
7. A member of the Ministerial Establishment who happens to be the near relative of any of the litigating parties, having its case in the same court should not involve himself or herself in the case and should not help him out of the way.
5.3-Conduct with regard to court
1. Every member of Ministerial Establishment has to assist the Presiding Officer of the court in different stages of the proceedings.
2. It should be kept in mind by the Ministerial Establishment that the judge, while sitting in the court should not be left alone. All concerned members of the Ministerial Establishment should be attentive, both while they are in the court and while they are out of the court.
3. It is the duty of each member of the Ministerial Establishment to maintain towards the court, a respectful attitude.
4. It is the duty of each member of the Ministerial Establishment to respect and behave with lawyers, litigating parties, witnesses and other persons both while they are inside the court room and while they are out of the court room.
5. A member of the Ministerial establishment should not advise a person, whose testimony could establish or tend to establish a material fact, to avoid service of process, or conceal himself or herself or otherwise to make his/her testimony unavailable.
6. A member of the Ministerial Establishment, most particularly the Process-Servers should not misquot or twist a fact just to save a particular person and should not tell a lie both, to the court and to the litigating parties.
7. All members of Ministerial Establishment should properly and regularly write, maintain and preserve the registers.
5. All members of Ministerial Establishment should provide easy access for the lawyers, litigating parties and people in general to inspect the registers.
7. The members of Ministerial Establishment, who are often inside the court room during the judicial proceedings, should maintain the decorum of the court.
8. The members of Ministerial Establishment, who are often inside the court room during the judicial proceedings, should ensure that a reasonable distance is maintained between the judge and the litigating parties.
5.4-Conduct with regard to lawyers
1. Each and every member of the Ministerial Establishment should understand that they are duty bound to assist both the lawyers and Presiding Officer of the court who are presumed to know the law, rules and orders framed by the High Court.
2. Where it is true that due to mushroom growth in the legal profession, few lawyers are not up to the standards, it is also true that those who are up right lawyers also face difficulties while working with the members of Ministerial Establishment. It is due to few black sheep in the Ministerial Establishment who corrupt the whole Ministerial Establishment. Therefore, every member of the Ministerial Establishment should not create obstacles in the way of those up right lawyers, if they are working legally and in accordance with legal procedure.
3. Every judicial document is subject to proper inspection by lawyers. The Ministerial Establishment should ensure that proper legal procedure is adopted by the lawyers while inspecting the documents or case files or while obtaining copies of the same.
4. There should be a healthy, productive, and just interaction between the lawyers and the Ministerial Establishment.
My fellow lawyers, I will not confine my knowledge and my research work to my own self and my own library, I have opened my heart and will keep spreading thought provoking ideas in the community of lawyers, so that a united community of lawyers can effectively streamline their profession. I consider it a dire need of the time. I have shared an extract of my research work, which was created in 2006. The complete book will be published soon.