The tormentors amongst us

Our judicial system requires a complete overhaul as we need younger, more educated and more informed officers

Zorain Nizamani March 18, 2023
The writer is pursuing his Masters in Criminology and Criminal Justice from Northeastern University. He can be reached at [email protected]

The legal profession, as we’ve always heard, is a noble profession. All over the world, people dedicate their entire lives to this occupation, helping others, who have been wronged, into getting justice. But of course, all around the world, efficient public education systems exist which ensure quality education for all. This means that almost everyone passes through a uniform standard of education, whilst developing their own analytical and observational skills.

The story isn’t quite the same for us. In Pakistan, despite the constitution promising a right to education, millions of children are deprived of basic education. This gives rise to widespread illiteracy. Due to lack of a uniform curriculum, different standards of education persist. Students doing O and A levels consider themselves to be academically superior as compared to others. It is an established fact that parents who can afford to send their kids to A level schools tend to see their kids develop academically better as compared to those who cannot.

Due to this inconsistent educational system, all the institutions of the country suffer. One example being the judiciary. For someone to become a magistrate in the lower courts in Pakistan, all they have to do is rote-learn chunks of the Civil Procedure Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Law of Evidence and the Pakistan Penal Code. Once that bit is done, take the exams when announced and you have a new magistrate! Who cares about analysis and observation. The way the judicial exams are designed, they don’t require critical thinking. All they demand is merely memorising provisions of law which are used in courts daily and once that is done, you are good to go!

The problem arises when someone who merely memorises laws locks horns with someone who reads, understands and analyses. Someone who critically assesses and argues. If someone who goes strictly by the book and does only what the book tells him faces someone who reads and understands, therein conflict arises.

That is what, in my opinion, is plaguing the subordinate courts of Karachi. The younger lawyers, who have been trained by their professors and teachers to focus on details, dive deep into meanings and analyse profoundly are arguing matters before judicial officers who do not seem to be very keen on doing the same. Instead, they seem to be operating upon the more redundant principles of sticking strictly to what has become ‘settled law’ (oh how I hate this term) without appreciating the meaning behind why a certain law was made or why, to the contrary, it should have never been made.

Maybe, our judicial system needs more young, more energetic and more informed officers who will actually be present in their court rooms rather than spending more than half their day in their chambers. Maybe, we need more officers who will actually listen to younger lawyers argue, understand their complex, tech-laden English and officers who can respect the fact that young female lawyers are just as good as the male lawyers. Maybe, we need officers who won’t take years and years to decide simple matters only because they’re slaves to due process. There are procedures which need to be followed, agreed. However, procedures aren’t supposed to linger matters on. Procedures are supposed to ensure consistency and uniformity, not encourage delays.

It is no secret that our judicial system requires a complete overhaul. We need younger, more educated, more informed and modernistic officers who don’t take forever to decide matters. It is unfortunate that until and unless there is no one uniform education system for everyone in the country, the huge divide amongst intellect will continue to manifest itself in different institutions of the country.

The young lawyers of this country experience vast frustration when their arguments are not understood by judicial officers. Resultantly, in order to soothe ones ego, applications and cases are dismissed due to lack of knowledge.

Let’s hope we get more educated minds in courts. That is the only way to improve our outdated judicial system.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2023.

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