HYDERABAD: Deflecting accusations that judges were busy setting dangerous criminals free, the Sindh High Court chief justice instead put the blame on the prosecution, and pointed out the abysmally imbalanced ratio of registered complaints to investigation officers in the province.
Justice Mushir Alam was talking to media personnel after meeting district judges here on Thursday. “The administration should also realise its responsibility,” he said. “Last year, around 15,000 FIRs were lodged in Sindh. But there were only 170 investigation officers in the province [to deal with them].”
Many politicians, particularly those belonging to the coalition government, have criticised the judiciary for releasing criminals whom law enforcers arrest by putting their lives at risk. However, the chief justice instead emphasised the need to strengthen the provincial police force, and lessen their dependence on other security agencies. “Police can perform better than other agencies, which have been imposed on us.”
Alam also linked the absence of witness protection laws to the low conviction rates of notorious criminals.
Defending the new judicial policy, Justice Alam said that the number of pending cases in the province had been brought down to nearly 125,000, from more than 350,000 a few years ago. Cases that were filed in courts in Sindh before 2007 have now been reduced to around 3,500. The remaining cases would be disposed of by the end of next month, promised Alam.
The chief justice also condemned the parliamentary committee’s decision to not give permanent jobs to two ad-hoc SHC judges, Justice Nadeem Akhtar and Justice Shafi Siddiqui. The judicial commission had recommended that these judges be given permanent jobs, said Alam. “Such involvement of the government [in the appointment of judges] is impeding the induction of good lawyers into the judiciary,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2013.