Not ‘B-team’ of any agency, asserts LHC CJ

Says confrontation would only weaken institutions

Rana Yasif May 24, 2024
Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan of the Lahore High Court. SCREENGRAB


Chief Justice Malik Shahzad Ahmad Khan of the Lahore High Court (LHC) has urged district court judges to work with honesty and without fear, asserting that "we are not the B-team of any institution or agency".
He also stressed the divine nature of the legal duty, stating, "God chose you to render this job with honesty to dispense justice to the needy masses," he said. "Fear the God on the throne... we will not be afraid of those on the ground".

Justice Shahzad was addressing the closing ceremony for participants of a pre-service training course at the Punjab Judicial Academy on Friday.

"We don't seek confrontation with the government or any institution, but don't pin hopes on us if there is no respect for the judiciary," he added. He stressed that the judicial system serves not only the powerful but also the poor and aggrieved.

"There must be the fear of God, to whom we are answerable, and don’t be bothered by what may come."

Highlighting the qualities required of a judge, Chief Justice Malik Shahzad stated, "Justice among human beings is one of the features of God. Render this job without any fear or lust. A judge must have a complete grip on the Constitution, treat lawyers and litigants with patience, and maintain an impeccable character."

He also noted the critical difference between a government employee and a judge. "A government employee cares for his job only for perks and privileges, while a judge, without concern for his job, spends his life dispensing justice to the needy."Cases vs judges' strengthChief Justice Malik Shahzad praised the judges for their hard work despite a shortage of judges. "The total number of cases in Punjab is 1.4 million, while the sanctioned strength of judicial officers is 2,364. Currently, there are 1,760 judges, leaving us 800 judges short (670 civil judges and 130 additional district & sessions judges)," he said.

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In the last three months, 816,675 cases were filed in Punjab, 825,195 were decided, and the number of pending cases decreased by 8,520.Issues and solutionsTo significantly reduce the backlog of 1.4 million cases, Chief Justice Malik Shahzad outlined several solutions. He identified adjournments due to the absence of witnesses, sometimes overseas, as a major cause of delays.

"To dispense justice in time, we are launching 'video link' in Punjab courts to enable remote participation in proceedings," he said. He urged the use of technology, such as case follow-up management systems, E-Stamp, E-Filing, IMO, WhatsApp, and other modern tools.

He also addressed the issue of lawyer strikes, which impede the timely dispensation of justice. "After taking the oath as chief justice, I convened a meeting of judges. We are united and will not tolerate strikes that delay justice for the needy masses."Alternate dispute resolutionChief Justice Malik Shahzad highlighted the importance of Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) courts, comparing their usage in foreign countries to Pakistan. "In America, 95% of criminal cases are sent to ADRs, while only 5% go to other courts. In Lahore, since the establishment of ADR on November 16, 2023, 108 cases were referred, and 105 were resolved," he said. He announced plans to launch ADRs in each district of Punjab soon.

"We are committed to making the judiciary a beacon of justice, serving the powerful and the poor alike, with honesty and without fear," he concluded.



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