Pakistan Bar Council Member Proposes Reforms In Legal Education And Training
Due to the increasing incidents of lawyers’ misbehaviour with judges, police, media persons and others, an executive committee member of the Pakistan Bar Council has proposed wide-ranging reforms in legal education and training to overcome the growing indiscipline.
Raheel Kamran Sheikh wrote a letter to the twenty-three (23) Pakistan Bar Council members, giving a number of suggestions to reform the legal system. The letter stated that policies of the bar councils should be developed on the basis of essential evidence and statistics so that informed choices could be made.
The letter stated that there is a dire need, for instance, to statistically study the social background, skills, earning capacities, etc. of lawyers so that the profession can be regulated in the context using facts and statistics. The provincial bar councils must be made to provide the statistics along with the lists of advocates available in each district and tehsil for training the entrants while keeping in view the required qualification.
The number of seats in law colleges must be allocated in proportion to the number of lawyers available for training the new entrants to the profession. He said the rules for granting affiliation to law colleges must be standardised and applicable across the board.
For the benefit of already licensed lawyers, voluntary training sessions and lectures should be introduced at district and high court bars. Moreover, out of five years LLB degree, one year must be used for practical learning from practising advocates. It was also proposed that the issuance of licences to lawyers should be subjected to passing an entry test conducted by an organisation other than the provincial bar council, like the Higher Education Commission.
He also suggested reforms in the bar elections – Pakistan Bar Council members should be elected directly by the enrolled advocates so that the council could regulate the provincial bars effectively, without political preferences. Only practising lawyers with an average certain minimum number of cases in the last three (3) years should be eligible to contest election and should he or she win, such a representative should not be allowed to accept more number of briefs than his average of past three (3) years. The letter stated that only practising advocates should be eligible to vote in the district and high court bar association elections. Additionally, no lawyer with less than a couple of years’ practice should be eligible to vote.
It is proposed that an independent, fair and effective system of monitoring the perception among lawyers and clients regarding the grant of interim relief or bail should be introduced.
In the matters of appointment of auctioneers, receivers and commissions, as well as while marking state cases in criminal matters, the judges must exercise their discretion on the basis of equality of opportunity.
The Pakistan Bar Council leader suggested that objective criteria and guidelines should be laid down for structuring the discretion vested in the chief justices of high courts for making nominations for elevation to the bench. Elevation of district and session judges on seniority-cum-fitness, instead of extraordinary performance and contribution in terms of correct decision-making, converted the elevation to the bench as more of promotions than fresh appointments and took away the motivation in young judges to perform well.
Likewise, in the absence of objective criteria or guidelines, young and capable lawyers are hardly motivated to work hard for the better assistance of courts. The letter also said:
“Reform of legislation should be suggested by the PBC for establishing special tribunals for the accountability of all professions imparting essential services, including legal and healthcare services, etc. to exercise jurisdiction over disciplinary matters and the composition of such a tribunal should contain fifty percent (50%) members from outside the profession in relation to which the complaint is being heard and decided.”
The letter stated that it was one of the established principles of the independence of judiciary adopted by the United Nations more than three (3) decades ago that all complaints against judges must be decided expeditiously. The Supreme Judicial Council should be made an effective institution and there must not be any pending complaints.
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