RAWALPINDI: Terming the judiciary as the ultimate protector of citizens’ rights and liberties, Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that “the people of Pakistan repose great confidence in the judiciary and it is the duty of judges as well as lawyers to act as a bulwark against constitutional excesses and arbitrariness in order to turn Pakistan into a true welfare state.”
Addressing the gathering for the inauguration of a new judicial complex in Rawalpindi early on Tuesday morning, the Chief Justice reiterated that no one is over and above the law, and that the court has a duty to provide the people with justice.
“Judiciary today is fully alert and responsive to the peoples’ grievances and sufferings. It will leave no stone unturned in securing their fundamental rights of life, liberty and property,” he said.
The Chief Justice linked the provision of rights to the public to the success of the justice system. “Success of the justice system depends upon the services rendered by its legal professionals.”
“They are the promoters and protectors of human rights and constitutional norms and as part of their professional duties,” he said. The judicial cog stood on both the bench and the bar and both needed to work in tandem to provide justice to the public. “They share equal responsibility with the bench to keep ‘the stream of justice pure and unsullied’. The bar and the bench, the two proverbial wheels of the chariot of justice, are required to nurture a dynamic relationship of mutual respect, cooperation and liaison for achieving the goal of fair dispensation of justice, eradicating social evils, and building the society on the norms of justice, equality and fair play.”
“The judges of the district courts must be in a position to render transparent and impartial decisions, without being influenced by fear or favour,” he said, emphasising the integral roles of district judges dispensing justice at the grass root level. “Highest degree of integrity, efficiency and commitment to perform duties, is expected from the judges at all levels and especially from the judges of the district courts who exercise vast powers and authority under the law for analysing the facts and reaching the truth in the case.”
He urged the judges to be just, that their decisions should be such that any lawyer exiting their court is satisfied with the decision.
One of the critical issues that the National Judicial Policy of 2009 was due to address was Pakistan’s massive backlog of cases. There has been limited success in negotiating with the mammoth number of cases pending in the courts, the Chief Justice observed.
“After formulation of National Judicial Policy 2009, as revised from time to time, the working and efficiency of the district courts have increased to a great extent and the credit goes to the judges as well as lawyers who in collaboration with each other made the policy’s implementation possible,” the Chief Justice said, but noted that “the common problems of backlog of cases; delays and protracted litigation; frivolous litigation; corruption and certain procedural flaws are still there, although lesser in degree as compared to the past.”
“No matter how much wisdom and experience is poured in identifying the problems, instant and complete relief is unlikely to be achieved as the problems themselves are so complex,” he said, suggesting that “proper case management and time management; identifying and analysing problematic areas; consultation and collaboration between bar and bench; and devising mechanisms; will provide a gradual but significant cure.”
“The National Judicial Policy indeed furnishes the platform for the Bench and the Bar to cooperate and coordinate for achieving the objective of effective and efficient system of administration of justice in the country.”
Equipped for justice
The Chief Justice said that a judge can no longer say that there are obstacles, do not have the tools to dispense justice, since the new complex has been equipped to allow judges to keep up to date and equipped to deal with emerging challenges.
“Law is a dynamic process and it changes shapes, in line with changing realities and emerging challenges. The judges are required to improve their skills through continuous learning by means of legal training and research and thereby improving their understanding of the law,” he stressed adding that judges need to learn the latest techniques of searching case-law through information technology tools.
“In this globalised world, the laws of one country bear direct and indirect impact on the laws of other countries. Internet facility, which is available to all and sundry, provides prompt access to the laws and judicial decisions of almost all the countries of the world,” he said pointing to the facilities made available in the new judicial complex. “Therefore, it is the need of the hour that the Judges learn the basic skills of web browsing and thereby acquaint themselves with the legal research databases and methodologies so as to have latest information about the changing trends in substantive and procedural laws of the foreign countries.
“There is no doubt that the judges cannot legislate; however, they can at least set out such standards through their rational and research based judgments that serve as guidelines for the legislators for bringing necessary changes in the out-dated laws and regulations,” the Chief Justice pointed out.