LAHORE, Dec 20: An All Pakistan Lawyers’ Representatives Conference on Thursday rejected the Dec 31 deadline fixed under the National Judicial Policy for disposal of all pending cases and termed the NJP impracticable.
Elected representatives of bar councils and bar associations across the country participated in the conference held at Karachi Shuhada Hall of Lahore High Court Bar Association. Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) had hosted the conference.
PBC Vice-Chairman Akhtar Husain, chairman executive committee of PBC Burhan Moazzam Malik, President of Supreme Court Bar Association Mian Israrul Haq, President Lahore High Court Bar Association Shehram Sarwar, chairman executive of Balochistan Bar Council Munir Kakar, vice-chairman of Punjab Bar Council Ghulam Abbas Nassoana, chairman executive committee of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bar Council Naeemudin Khan, President of Sindh High Court Bar Association Mustafa Lakhani, were among the participants. Former president SCBA Asma Jahangir was also present.
Addressing the conference Mian Israrul Haq said the implementation of NJP was not possible. He suggested that the National Judicial Policy Making Committee should be abolished as chief justices of all provincial high courts could manage the affairs of subordinate courts.
He said setting a deadline for disposal of cases amounted to murder of justice. He said: “Justice hurried is justice buried.”
Mr Haq pointed out that number of judges should be increased up to the sanctioned strength in high court. He suggested that the judges removed for being appointees of former chief justice of Pakistan Abdul Hameed Dogar should be considered for reappointment. He said most of the removed judges were competent than many sitting judges of the LHC.
He said the judicial policy was unnecessary as statutory rules were already in field about disposal of cases.
Criticising the quick disposal of cases, Ms Jahangir said many important cases, including that of 18th constitutional amendment, were still pending adjudication before the apex court. She said the SC judges had taken the place of the government and indulged in politics.
She advised the Chief Justice of Pakistan to dare contest election from any constituency in the country if he wanted to do politics. The result would clear misconception about his popularity graph, she added. Ms Jahangir said if SC was supposed to do all things in the country the parliament should be abolished. The judges of the apex court should also prepare budget of the country, she added.
She also slammed suo motu notice against appointment of prime minister’s son-in-law to World Bank. She said sons and nephews of many sitting judges had been given jobs in the judiciary. She urged the judiciary to exercise self accountability before holding accountability of other institutions.
She demanded of the Supreme Judicial Council to decide pending references against the judges of superior courts. All, including politicians, army and judiciary, should be subjected to accountability, she added.
At the end of the conference, PBC Vice-Chairman Akhtar Husain presented a resolution before the participants which was passed unanimously.
He said efforts made by NJPMC for ending backlog were commendable but the policy suffered from serious flaws and its implementation lacked due process as guaranteed under Article 10-A of the Constitution.
He said the thrust of policy was on ending litigation through any means rather than the delivery of justice without delay. A large part of the policy had fallen by the wayside and some basic principles laid down for the independence of the judiciary had been ignored, he added.
The adopted resolution stated that legal fraternity supported all reasonable measures taken to end chronic delays and in managing huge backlogs. Lawyers were greater sufferers of this mismanagement of decades in term of financial distress and mental tension. They believe that while eliminating delays, justice should not be buried in the process.
It said the directions issued by the NJPMC for prompt disposal had resulted in a grim situation. The shortage of judges in high courts was mainly responsible for backlog of million of cases. The sanctioned strength of SHC judges was 40 whereas only 24 were appointed. The LHC had a sanctioned strength of 60 judges whereas 36 had been appointed.
The resolution demanded appointment of judges to the superior judiciary without delay and on merit. It said strength of judges to subordinate judiciary should also be increased.
It demanded of the government to immediately provide funds for establishing courtrooms and other infrastructure.
The resolution demanded that no retired judge of superior courts should be appointed to any paid assignment, in particular which is lower to their previous status and that too in very exceptional circumstances. It said lawyers should be appointed in tribunals and special courts.
It said the superior judiciary must be supported for attaining its independence but its accountability was also crucial for its fair image. There were several references pending for several years in the SJC. They required prompt decision so that judges could work without fear or favour. It said there was a critical need to device a policy with regard to case management and ending of delays or backlogs in the superior judiciary as the NJPMC had not laid any stress on this aspect.
The resolution maintained that the deadline fixed by the NJPMC for disposal of cases pending since 2008 was unreasonable and violated the principles of due process. It demanded immediate withdrawal of the deadline.
It was also demanded through the resolution that country’s leading bar councils and associations should be made party in proceedings on presidential reference about judges’ appointment before the Supreme Court.