The national judicial policy lays down that family cases should be decided in three to six months. Unfortunately that rarely happens.
Most family cases - including suits for maintenance, divorce and custody of children - can take up to five years. Some have been pending for six years. The blame for inordinate delay in the dispensation of justice in such cases lies with the lawyers as well as the judges.
Last week, the Lahore High Court took notice of a family case that has been pending for four years. The LHC inspection team member directed the district and sessions judge to report on the matter before the Guardian Court II.
Court records show that Komal Mughal had filed a case seeking custody of her two daughters, aged five and nine years, the recovery of her dowry articles and maintenance, four years ago. She had obtained a decree of dissolution of marriage from a family court in 2008 and in 2010, approached the court for the recovery of her dowry articles and maintenance.
Her former husband Kashif Bhutta had moved a petition in 2009 seeking permanent custody of his daughters Mirrat Kashif and Maha Kashif. The court had granted interim custody to Mughal. Bhutta later moved to Canada and relinquished his rights to visitation. He visits Pakistan once a year and is granted custody of his daughters for 15 days.
However, this year, Bhutta took his daughters to his native city, Sialkot, which lies outside the guardian court’s jurisdiction.
A two-member bench of the Supreme Court on Monday admonished Lahore Development Authority Director General Ahad Cheema for allowing LDA workers to demolish a wall around a woman’s residential plot in violation of a court order. Cheema was asked to look into the matter and take action against the officer(s) responsible.
Saima Bibi had moved a contempt petition in the Supreme Court. She submitted that she owned 10-marla plot in China Housing Scheme, and the court, through an earlier order had barred LDA officials from demolishing the walls on her property. She said that LDA Estate Officer Aqeel Akram had visited her plot and torn down a wall in violation of the court’s order.
Fire safety measures
A fire safety commission set up by the Lahore High Court submitted its recommendations on July 11. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah ordered the commission to send the recommendations to the Lahore Development Authority director general and the city government administrator, to ensure that the guidelines are incorporated in their rules.
The commission recommended that external steel staircases be installed in all high-rise buildings above 38-feet for safe evacuation, where separate exits were not available. Buildings covering 10,000 square feet must have at least two of these external staircases- one on each side of the building. These staircases must be separated from the main building by two doors opening outwards. The doors should be hinged, be at least three feet wide and have a fire-resistance rating of at least an hour.
The commission also proposed that all high-rise buildings must have a pressurised hydrant system alongside exit staircases. The hydrant system should have an independent power supply to support the pumps. All multi-storey buildings should have an independent overhead water tank or an external underground tank to support the hydrants.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2013.
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