Farewell address: ‘Our minds needs to be in sync with the 21st century’

Published: May 26, 2012

"The problems requiring solutions have changed. We are trying to solve 21st century problems with 19th century tools," Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed.

LAHORE: 

Our system of administration of justice is beset with many weaknesses. Pakistan is perhaps one of the most regulated countries in the world with a plethora of laws, yet the cherished goal of providing justice remains illusive, said the outgoing Lahore High Court Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Friday.

Delivering an address at the full court reference in his honour to bid him farewell, Justice Saeed thanked all the judges of the Lahore High Court. “By and large each and every honorable judge of this court took ownership and responsibility of the court. I had the privilege of their unwavering support and cooperation and benefited from their invaluable suggestions and ideas.”

Chief justice-designate Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Advocate General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Deputy Attorney General Abdul Hayee Gilani, Lahore High Court Bar Association President Shehram Sarwar and Punjab Bar Council Vice Chairman Ghulam Abbas Nissuana praised the services of Justice Saeed.

Justice Saeed stressed the need for cooperation and communication between the bar and the bench. He said, “Problems are faced by the bar and the bench jointly, therefore they must be dealt with and solved jointly. The relationship between the bar and the bench neither is nor should be allowed to become adversarial. It must be participatory. The lines of communication must always remain open facilitating a free flow of ideas so that the bar can take ownership of the endeavours for improvement in the administration of justice.”

He added, “Please permit me to state that the bench and the bar are only the trustees of our legal system. The true and real beneficiaries are the people of Pakistan who have an inalienable right enshrined in the Constitution to be provided with justice efficiently and effectively.”

“Pakistan is perhaps one of the most regulated countries in the world with a plethora of laws, yet the cherished goal of providing justice to the people remains illusive. It is the inefficiency of our legal system which has compromised its effectiveness. The procedures, rules, regulations and practices forming the basic fabric of the system were conceived in the 19th century and were perhaps best suited to the times. The problems requiring solutions through litigation have changed dramatically both in magnitude and complexity. We have failed to keep up. We are trying to solve 21st century problems with 19th century tools.”

Justice Saeed said, “Merely using modern technology is not sufficient to modernise the legal system. It is our mindset which too needs to be synchronised with the 21st century. At the end of the day it is not brick and mortar alone which forms the courts, but rather men and women who populate these buildings, that really matter.”

He also stressed the need for continuous training.

He said ancient administrative practices that retard the smooth functioning of the judicial process need to be identified and weeded out. He said sensitivity, fairness and transparency need to be introduced in to the service structure of judicial officers. He said: “I am confidant that the Lahore High Court and its subordinate courts shall move forward steadily on the road to progress.”

Justice Bandial said Justice Saeed had rendered many insightful and monumental judgments. “His judgments have enriched the law of the land and strengthened the framework of citizens’ right. The sweep of his judgments covers protection of public rights and public interest, punishing dishonest and false declarations in election matters, defining standards for admitting defences taken by alleged bank defaulters, protecting public parks, public funds and public posts from conversion, misuse and corruption.”

He said after the restoration of the judiciary we have entered a new era with deeper values and a broader commitment. “Our judiciary today not only dispenses justice but also remains accountable for it, to the Almighty Allah about us, the superior court of law across from us, and the litigating parties before us.

A vision has been bestowed on us through the historic lawyers movement as reinforced by the un-ambiguous criteria of discernment handed down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 26th, 2012.

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