ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa presides over a meeting of the National Judicial Policy Making Committee on Monday.—INP
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa presides over a meeting of the National Judicial Policy Making Committee on Monday.—INP

ISLAMABAD: After a successful initiative of establishing model courts for prompt trial of criminal cases, the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) on Monday proposed establishing Model Civil Appellate Courts (MCAC) as well as Model Trial Magistrate Courts (MTMC) for an early disposal of civil litigation.

Presided over by Chief Justice of Pakistan and NJPMC chairman Asif Saeed Khosa, the meeting was also attended by the chief justice of all the high courts of Pakistan and Federal Shariat Court. Federal Judicial Academy (FJA) director general Hayat Ali Shah briefed the meeting on the Expeditious Justice Initiative-II (EJI-II) regarding strategy for establishment of the Model Civil Appellate Courts (MCAC) and the Expeditious Justice Initiative-III (EJI-III) regarding strategy for establishment of the Model Trial Magistrate Courts (MTMC).

On June 19, CJP Khosa, while speaking at the 57 new additional judges of Model Criminal Trial Courts of Pakistan (MCTCs), announced establishment of such courts for early disposal of pending trials before different courts of the country.

On Monday Hayat Shah informed the NJPMC that under EJI-II, it was proposed that MCAC might be introduced in all districts of Pakistan for which the respective high courts will nominate presiding officers/additional district judges.

Initially, MCAC will be entrusted with appeals against orders, civil revisions, appeals in rent and family cases whereas the nominated judicial officers would be entrusted with 100 old cases at a time.

Model Civil Appellate Courts may be introduced in all districts, CJP-led meeting informed

The judges of such courts will conduct a preliminary hearing for settling all technical and legal issues whereas the courts will effect service through modern devices and the scheduling conference will be held on the day respondent appears.

No adjournment will be granted and miscellaneous application will be decided before the final decision except where the disposal merits in the final judgement. Likewise, the record in appeals against orders and revisions will not be requisitioned and certified copies will be attached. Moreover, judgement will be announced not later than three days after conclusion.

Hayat Shah explained that under EJI-III, MTMC were being proposed to be established in all districts and that MTMCs will consist of pre-trial magistrate who will conduct all pre-trial proceedings.

Old cases

The MTMC will be presided by magistrate empowered under Section 30 CrPC in each district/sub division according to work load and MTMC will be assigned 100 cases at a time and initially only old cases would be assigned although the district and sessions judge may allocate any category of cases.

Hayat Shah also sought approval of EJI-II and EJI-III initiatives which was unanimously granted and it was approved that the respective high court will nominate judicial officers within two weeks for giving effect to EJI-II and EJI-III.

Meanwhile, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sardar Mohammad Shamim Khan observed that a model court was functional in every district of the Punjab since 2017 whereas the Civil Appellate Model Courts were operating since 2018.

CJP Khosa, however, remarked that other provinces should also follow the model of Punjab.

When during the meeting Peshawar High Court Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth highlighted the need of appointing more judicial officers for the establishment of MCACs, CJP Khosa remarked that though recruitment of new judicial officers was the prerogative of the provincial governments, the respective high court could make administrative decisions for making MCACs operational for example in district where there are four or five additional district judges, one of them could be allocated as MCAC in the district which has low number of judicial officers.

The meeting was also briefed on the proposal of the ADB regarding establishment of special courts for gender-based violence cases against women and children across the country.

The committee deliberated upon the issue and resolved that the high courts would be asked to nominate a judge of the high court as focal person for the gender-based violence courts moreover, the high courts may also be asked to nominate a district and sessions judge or additional and sessions judge from each district for training at FJA in collaboration with ADB.

Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah pointed out that for the success of GBV courts, government’s ownership was necessary in the shape of requisite infrastructure.

The NJPMC secretary also briefed the committee on the action plan about the establishment of the Juvenile Justice and Child Courts in Pakistan and informed it that the juvenile courts were operational in Lahore and Peshawar.

The committee agreed in principle that the gender-based violence and child protection courts may be established in every district. However, keeping in view the paucity of judicial officers, in the first instance, the child courts may be established in the provincial headquarters and Islamabad.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2019