ISLAMABAD: In what appeared to be an attempt to dispel a perception in some circles that the judiciary always acts against measures taken by the executive, Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry said on Sunday that the Constitution required the institution to regulate the state machinery. “If the judiciary is vibrant, dynamic and independent, it will not only provide strength to other institutions of the state but also establish our credentials in the comity of nations,” he said at the conclusion of the Fourth National Judicial Conference.
The chief justice criticised the district judiciary for dealing with heinous crimes like murder in a cursory and casual manner and asked the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry to look into complaints of misuse of the judicial system brought to the notice of the participants of the conference. A judicial officer in Punjab examined 13 witnesses in a murder case in the absence of the complainant and the prosecution.
The chief justice spoke about three inmates, especially called from the Adiyala jail, who described their ordeal at the hands of police and a corrupt judicial system.
One of the inmates said his entire family, including his ailing father (who has now been freed) had been detained in a murder case. “One person was killed but my entire family has been ruined as all men are in jail and the case is not moving at all,” the prisoner said.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. What would be happening in other cases, the chief justice said. He suggested that such cases should be decided in six months.
The chief justice warned judicial officers to ensure monitoring and behave in a manner expected of them because such abuses in the system not only gave a bad name to the entire judiciary but to him as well as the head of the judicial system.
All stakeholders in the justice delivery system must act in harmony to make the system healthy and effective, he said.
The chief justice said suo motu action might be taken for the implementation of a judgment on regulating the quality of education in the law colleges.
The chief justice said the confidence and great expectations of the public had resulted in a number of litigations and delay in dispensation of justice might discourage people from approaching the courts with their grievances.
“The fabric of justice in any legal system is destroyed by delays and justice which is the primary objective and constitutional responsibility of the state and a right of citizens appears denied and defeated,” he said.
He said the judiciary was an important pillar and the backbone of the state and an independent judiciary was a prerequisite for a stronger nation. “The judiciary can be stronger only if all the stakeholders show an absolute commitment, dedication, character, professionalism and vision to work in mission to face the difficulties and meet challenges.”
The chief justice also read out the conference’s declaration, calling for a multi-dimensional approach for improving the implementation of the judicial policy that required a dialogue between the bench and the bar.
It said public interest litigations would be more successful with separate benches to hear human rights cases for a specified time. Preliminary inquiry must be completed before taking suo motu action on a matter.
It asked commissions to share the burden of the judiciary, adoption of procedural rules by the apex court to channel the cases and awareness in the legal fraternity to report the cases of human rights violation to the high courts.
It said the bench and the bar should work in a friendly atmosphere, while maintaining a professional distance along with dignity, appreciation and respect for each other.
The measures of deterrence, prevention and education should be applied to encounter corruption. It is necessary to strengthen the surveillance systems of the courts, especially at the district level, and malicious and false accusations against judicial officers should be strictly discouraged and addressed with disciplinary action.
The declaration asked for reform of jails to provide an opportunity to convicts to be reintegrated into the society as responsible and law-abiding citizens. The prisoners should be treated humanely and their recognised rights should be protected.
The jail manual is a comprehensive document but many of its provisions are not enforced. Jail authorities should ensure that it is followed.
Women and juveniles are particularly vulnerable members of society and, therefore, deserve requisite care.
It asked to treat plagiarism and counterfeiting as theft, deception and robbery. This calls for a review of ethical attitudes towards the intellectual property laws.
Similarly, counterfeiting medicines, syringes, healthcare devices, diagnostic kits and other medical equipment should be declared serious offences with enhanced punishment, it said.