Reform In The Lower Judiciary – Now or Never
The lower judiciary is the backbone of any legal system in the world and Pakistan is not an exception to that. A weak backbone cannot lift the edifice of the legal system; it is a well-known fact. For decades, reforming the lower judiciary has remained a wish for which no efforts have been made. The backbone of the Pakistani legal-judicial system is ailing chronically and needs immediate attention of the designated Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court (CJ of LHC) as the lower judiciary is directly under the administrative control of the High Court of the province.
The lower judiciary is facing a host of problems which have been pointed out time and again but no meaningful work has been done to cope up with them. There is a problem of infrastructure, no proper seating arrangements have been made for civil judges, particularly for the female judges who lack proper placement and are even denied chambers. The designated CJ of LHC himself pointed out this problem, while speaking at a recently held Female Judges Conference at Punjab Judicial Academy Lahore.
The Lahore Development Authority complex where civil judges and family judges sit, is in a pathetic condition which one can observe first-hand by simply visiting this place. This multi story building is jam packed with people, there is no emergency exit plan and is so congested that in the chance of an earthquake (God forbid) or any other emergency situation, it would be almost impossible to rescue oneself. CJ of LHC should see all these problems and grasp the real-horrific picture. The people of Punjab place their aspirations on the superior judiciary and expect some reformative action.
The current Chief Justice of Pakistan had lamented in various speeches about the base-governing policies in the country. With regards to the statement, I would like to say that he cannot change all of Pakistan but he has full authority to bring order to his own house, particularly the lower judiciary that is under the control of superior judiciary particularly the High Court of the respective province. Apart from other work, Lahore High Court’s designated Chief Justice’s immediate attention is badly needed for streamlining judgments from the lower judiciary. Surveys are also being conducted, for instance Dr. Osama Siddique has highlighted one particular issue by conducting a survey on ‘guidelines for future work to reform lower judiciary’.
The dream of inexpensive justice for the masses will only become true when the lower judiciary (backbone) is strong and robust enough to sustain the burden of the complete body (edifice) of the legal system. This task requires a herculean response by a dynamic leadership and in my personal view if this task is not done by the designated Chief Justice of Lahore High Court immediately, then I would respond by saying that it is a matter of “now or never”.
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