The new judicial complex for the district judiciary, started in 2007, is yet to be completed four years later.
Scheduled to be completed in 2009, work on the complex continues at a “snail’s pace”, according to lawyers. They said they wanted the facility to be completed “as early as possible” so that both lawyers and litigants can have access to improved facilities.
The judicial complex was started under the Access to Justice Programme and is being constructed at the site of old district jail near the present district courts. Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry inaugurated the project.
An official of the provincial works department, asking not to be named, said the project was delayed because of increase in prices of construction material and repeated changes in the basic building design.
The official added decisions regarding the fixing of benches in the verandas for litigants, grills in the open side of all corridors for safety purposes and erection of domes on the roof top were was taken later in the project, which contributed to the project’s delay.
He said the initial cost of the project was Rs380 million; but as the cost rose, the government had to obtain revised cost tenders to resume construction.
Work on the complex, during this period, remained suspended.
The complex will have 48 court rooms with retiring rooms for the district judges, offices for the support staff, a huge record room, judicial lock-up, and a community centre for the lawyers and the judges.
Sohail Nasir, the registrar who visited the site a few weeks ago, assured the works department officials and the contractor that the remaining Rs160 million would soon be released for an early completion of the project. Lahore High Court, too, has assured the provision of the remaining funds needed to complete the project and official sources say the building will be completed by the end of this year.
However many lawyers believe that at the current pace, the complex will not be completed by 2011’s end.
District Bar Association President Malik Jawad Khalid said they had held five meetings with the chief justice of Lahore High Court for provision of needed funds for the project’s early completion. He hoped the community centre and bar halls for the lawyer would be completed by the end of this month. The CJP has been initiated for the inauguration of the new facility.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 7th, 2011.