KARACHI: The international conference on criminal justice system concluded on Sunday, with Sindh High Court Chief Justice Musheer Alam expressing hope that its suggestions might make the legal system function better.
The three-day conference was organised by the Hamdard Law School, in collaboration with the Network of Asia Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance (NAPSIPAG) and the Committee for Welfare of Prisoners.
“It is heartening to note that we finally engaged in such an analysis,” said Justice Alam, while adding that the country has started witnessing the benefits of having a free judiciary.
The final session of the conference was chaired by Dr Ritu Diwan, head of the Centre for Gender Economics at the University of Mumbai, and was on “Social justice, governance and ethics.”
District and sessions judge Dr Qamaruddin Bohra said that the conviction rate remains woefully low, between five and ten per cent across all registered cases. “The prosecution system has collapsed as investigations are conducted by undisciplined police officers.” Dr Bohra added that it is in the witness’ personal interest to remain silent. The accused gets acquitted from cases that are presented in front of prominent judges because of unavailability of trustworthy witnesses.
Nazish Brohi, an independent researcher and development consultant, referred to an absence of consensus on the “idea of the state,” which allows the government to use “force and violence to deal with various challenges.” As a result, the country will remain preoccupied with domestically generated security threats.
Raza Ahmed Rumi said that at least 19,550 cases were pending at the Supreme Court, while another 199,243 cases were backlogged at the country’s higher courts.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2012.