PESHAWAR: Inaugurating the first mobile court in the country here on Saturday, Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan said that the Constitution had made it mandatory for the state to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to citizens, but the state institutions never paid serious attention to this constitutional obligation.
The chief justice inaugurated a specially-designed Mobile Court coach parked on the premises of the high court in a ceremony attended by judicial officers, lawyers and representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP has been extending financial and technical support to this project, started on the high court’s initiative.
The spacious coach comprises several portions, including a small courtroom, judge’s chamber, driver’s cabin, litigants’ waiting section etc. The air-conditioned coach has three modes of provision of electric power – from generator, a solar energy panel and from normal electricity connection when it is parked near such a facility. The special green coach was stated to be prepared at a cost of Rs15 million.
A civil judge cum judicial magistrate, Fazal Wadud, started the proceedings of the court by hearing six cases, five of criminal nature and one civil dispute.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy’s director general Hayat Ali Shah said that so far they had imparted training to eight judicial officers and 16 lawyers to run the mobile courts. He stated that initially the critics of this project believed that it could not be accomplished, but now that dream had transformed into reality.
The PHC chief justice had floated the idea of mobile courts after he assumed the charge in Nov 2011. Under this project, the judicial officers and other court officials would visit far away areas in different districts and decide cases there so as to provide justice to people at their doorsteps. The high court is planning to set up 11 mobile courts in the province; four in the central districts, two each in Hazara and southern districts and three in Malakand division.
Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the chief justice said that now they would be providing justice at the doorsteps of people.
He stated that the idea of mobile courts was sacred as the justice system would be itself in search of the oppressed class.
“The inability of masses to bring their disputes to the courts due to a number of reasons, including the cost of litigation, lack of resources and cumbersome legal procedure, has prompted us to establish mobile courts and provide quick and inexpensive justice to poor people,” he said.
The chief justice stated that to introduce ADR (alternate dispute resolution) as supplementary to the formal justice system, a course was designed for the judges and lawyers of mobile courts.
He stated that the concept of mobile courts read that decision of a case and resolving a dispute were two different things. The former, he said, meant a compulsory ruling and the latter referred to uprooting differences.
“A society can only prosper when differences are uprooted as formal rulings may result into an endless chain of legal battles causing mental anxiety, physical discomfort and financial worries.”
Justice Dost Mohammad stated that timely intervention of mobile courts would enable the parties concerned to settle amicably all kinds of civil and criminal disputes in their very start. He added that on the one hand it would put at rest the disputes and conflicts bringing peace and tranquility in the society, on the other financial resources being wasted could be saved by the parties.
He stated that early resolution of disputes, if timely attended by the mobile courts, would plug the heavy inflow of lawsuits in regular courts. This would reduce considerable burden on the regular courts and the backlog crisis would be brought down to a great extent.
The chief justice lamented that they had drafted and referred two proposed laws to the department concerned for its presentation in the provincial assembly, but unfortunately the previous government paid no heed and the draft was still yet to be presented to the provincial legislature.
UNDP country director Marc Andre stated that the mobile court project was the vision of the Peshawar High Court, while the UNDP had been playing a support role in it. He said that these courts would bring a positive change in the judicial system as the project was aimed at providing speedy and cheap justice to people at their doorsteps.