ISLAMABAD: The country’s criminal justice system is heavily tilted in favour of the perpetrators of a crime rather than the victims, Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan regretted on Monday.
“This injustice is at its worst if the perpetrator happens to be powerful, socially or financially,” the AG said while speaking at a ceremony to mark the start of the new judicial year at the Supreme Court.
Wealth and social status raise an impregnable defence in favour of the perpetrators of all sorts of crimes, the AG bemoaned, highlighting that gender-related crimes were endemic.
Female victims, whether she is a three-year-old child or a mother of three, are particularly targeted, the AG regretted. Some elements even kill women as a matter of honour and for some women, there is no peace even in their graves. “It’s time for serious collective introspection,” the AG observed.
Hearings in civil matters sometimes linger on for generations, the AG said, while in criminal matters lack of proper investigation and inadequate prosecution bring comfort to perpetrators of crimes.
Likewise, in white collar crimes, defective investigation and prosecution, lack of impartiality and arbitrariness help perpetrators pass themselves off as victims of a flawed accountability process.
The real victims of these crimes are the people of Pakistan whose billions are siphoned off and locked in foreign accounts and assets, the AG emphasised.
Khalid Jawed said only a truly independent judiciary could be the ultimate custodian of the nation’s rights and liberties. The institutional independence of the judiciary has to be jealously guarded and there can be no better guarantor of its independence than a united court with a robust Bar standing by it.
The AG said true strength lies in unity, citing a quote from Abraham Lincoln: “A House divided against itself cannot stand.”
The AG said the life of a judge was scrutinised in public glare and tested on the touchstone of the summit of human qualities.
“Looking at the Supreme Court, I can vouch for the fact that the greater is the strength of the character, the greater has been the worldly travails and yet whenever one of you has been tested, the metal has refused to bend.
“It gives me immense pride to be standing before judges of such sterling character and integrity.”
Referring to the issue of transparency in the process of judges’ appointment, the attorney general said the present mechanism provided under Article 175A of the constitution envisaged a collaborative process entrusting the judiciary and the parliament with the task of appointment of judges to superior courts.
“As a member of the Judicial Commission, I can personally vouch for the fact that the proceedings of the commission under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed are absolutely democratic,” the AG said. “A full, frank and robust discussion takes place and all members present their views with passion.”
Abid Saqi, Vice Chairman of the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC), pleaded with the apex court to intervene for protecting fundamental rights and freedom of the press.
Mr Saqi emphasised that judicial appointments play a critical role in winning the nation’s trust and confidence in the judiciary.
Syed Qalb-i-Hassan, who heads the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), asked the Supreme Court to take note of the “calculated campaign being waged against worthy judges of the apex court and their family members, particularly against Justice Qazi Faez Isa, on social media.
“Such campaigns should not go unnoticed and unchecked. We expect that the applications filed with the Supreme Court for review of the judgement in Justice Isa case will be taken up for hearing at an early date,” the SCBA chief said.
Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2020