PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Thursday asked the provincial government to respond to a petition against the recent law on alternate dispute resolution (ADR).

A bench consisting of Chief Justice Qaiser Rashid Khan and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mehfooz also issued a notice to the advocate general seeking his response to the petition filed by lawyer Fawad Afzal Khan, who requested the court to declare the KP Alternate Dispute Resolution Act, 2020, unconstitutional insisting the executive has encroached on the functions of the judiciary through it.

The petitioner also sought a stay order against the law as an interim relief. A decision will be decided on the next date to be fixed later.

The respondents in the petition are the provincial government through its chief secretary, KP law secretary, the provincial assembly’s secretary, and KP Bar Council through its vice-chairman.

Petitioner claims executive has encroached on judiciary’s functions through ADR Act

Counsel for the petitioner Noor Alam Khan contended that the ADR Act didn’t provide the right to appeal or revision against decisions under that law.

He claimed that the provincial government had virtually turned the province into a laboratory, where experiments of all kinds were performed.

The lawyer said the government had introduced a parallel judicial system in the form of the ADR mechanism.

He said the KPADR Act, 2020, violated Article 175 of the Constitution, which guaranteed separation of the judiciary from the executive.

The lawyer pointed out that the new law provided for the establishment of the Saliseen Selection Committee at divisional level that comprised commissioners, judges, police officers, and representatives of other law-enforcement agencies.

He contended that under the Constitution, adjudication was the sole job of the judiciary, which should be progressively separated from the executive as prescribed by Article 175(3) of the Constitution.

The counsel, however, said under the new law, the adjudication authority had been mixed up and that the new setup would be a violation of Article 175(3) of the Constitution.

He said instead of increasing the number of judges at district level and providing facilities to judges serving in far-flung areas and peripheries, the government introduced a private judicial setup.

The lawyer said the new alternate dispute resolution system was introduced to show the judicial system’s failure and it would erode the people’s trust in the judicial setup.

He claimed that compared to judicial officers, the executive officers were easily approachable and if the executive officers would be the adjudicating authority as prescribed in the new law, then the dispensation of justice would never take place.

The counsel said the residents of the newly-merged tribal districts in the province recently got rid of the black law, Frontier Crimes Regulation, and the government was trying to tie them up in the new judicial setup, which would never resolve their issues.

He claimed that the new law violated decisions of superior courts, which had prohibited the jirga system, especially in criminal cases.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2021

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