Pakistan is going through the most tumultuous phase of its history. The country is facing existential threat not only from “without” but also from “within”. Besides security threat, the political system is collapsing as the political leadership is fast losing credibility. Democracy continues to disappoint the electorates as institutions erode owing to rampant corruption and bad governance. In such circumstances, the emergence of Judiciary as an independent and impartial institution was seen as a ray of hope amid doom and gloom. However, it has failed to live up to the aspirations of the people. If one had any doubt, the establishment of Military Courts which were introduced into the judicial system by the 21st Amendment to the Constitution is a vivid illustration of the fact. There is an urgent need to introduce reforms in the judicial institution of the country. Any such measure must commence from little introspection into the working of the system and introduce reforms which make the institution synchronized with the growing needs of the modern times.
Pakistan Judicial system is based on the Anglo-Saxon model introduced by the British in India. Pakistan adopted the laws enacted by the “Raj” government with little modification. Our Civil and Criminal procedure codes are more than hundred years old. These laws are not outdated and do not cater the needs of modern times. For instance, under Civil Procedure Code process of summoning is same which was hundred years ago. No measure has been introduced to utilize modern means of communication for effecting service on defendant or witness. We are still obsessed with process serving agency, which is employing hundred years old mechanism to serve summons. It then should not be come as a surprise that most of summonses are not served properly and courts pass ex-parte decrees against persons, who do not even have slightest idea that a case has been instituted against him. This is a reason why we have large number of applications for setting aside ex-parte decree/proceedings are pending in the courts, wasting precious court time and expense of the parties.
The average time for the case to be finally decided in Pakistan is 15 to 20 years. People have lost faith in the judicial system mainly due to its inability to provide timely justice. Our medieval procedural laws provide enough lacunas to be exploited for delaying trial indefinitely. Further, our Courts are already over burdened and we have not developed any mechanism curbing or even discouraging frivolous litigation. All this have contributed in the ad infinitum procrastination in the courts. Unless, the system delivers speedy justice to the litigants, we cannot be able to restore peoples’ confidence in the judicial system.
The interaction of common citizens with judicial system come at lower courts and that is the place where we have most of the problems. Few suggestions have been penned down here to enhance the efficiency of the judicial system.
- The reforms should aim at improving the efficiency of the judicial system. For this purpose, the mechanism to timely decide cases without unnecessary delay be introduced. A party who has been guilty of delaying the case should be burdened with heavy costs.
- The effective mechanism should be introduced aimed at curbing frivolous litigation. Here again not only the unmeritorious case be thrown out of the court at the earliest stage of hearing but also exemplary costs be imposed for wasting court and other party’s time.
- The outdated and redundant laws should be amended and updated to meet the demands of 21st Similarly, punishments of fine provided in PPC should commensurate with modern valuation of money.
- A major portion of Pakistan’s population is illiterate and simple. It is thus, imperative that judicial process should also be simple so that common litigant can comprehend the its process. Undue technical laws like Court Fees Act and Suits Valuation Act be amended accordingly.
- The judiciary must be given financial autonomy and should be responsible for the financial management of the courts individually and as a whole, within the budgets allocated to them.
- The maximum number of cases per judge be fixed so that court is not overburdened with cases and give proper time and attention to cases pending before it. The cases which are in excess of the quota of judges be sent to pool and be taken up once the cases already pending are disposed of.
- The specialized courts should be introduced and judges be given special training on their subject to increase their efficiency and quality of work.
- The remuneration of judges and magistrates must remain commensurate with their professional responsibility and high public duty. This is particularly important so as to minimize the needs or pretexts for financial corruption.
- Judges should be empowered and protected so that decisions be made without any fear and favour to any person. Judicial independence must be ensured.
Judiciary is the principal organ of the state. If Judiciary fails in the discharge of its duties, there would be chaos and panic in the country. Pakistan’s judiciary is fast losing it’s confidence in the people. It is high time that necessary reforms be introduced so that people faith is restored in the Judiciary and our beloved country make witness real progress and harmony.