‘Justice on Wheels’, the first mobile court project in the country’s history, delivered promptly as Judicial Magistrate Fazl-e-Wadud disposed of six petitions on its inaugural day.
A project which was initially meant to be kick started in 2012 was finally inaugurated by Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Dost Muhammad Khan on Saturday. Justice Khan was accompanied by UNDP Country Director Marc Andre, UNDP Technical Specialist Sharmila Rasool, provincial police chief Ihsan Ghani, and judges of the high court and subordinate judiciary.
During his address, Justice Khan said the Constitution makes it mandatory for the state to provide citizens inexpensive and prompt justice. The project was meant to be inaugurated last year, but was delayed as the provincial government showed little interest. The PHC chief justice went on to explain many people cannot afford to travel to the courts; ‘Justice on Wheels’ will now travel for them and provide justice at their doorstep.
“Once disputes are brought to regular courts and heavy expenses are incurred, the stakes become high and chances of settlement through reconciliation become almost zero,” stressed Justice Khan. Mobile courts could enable parties to settle all kinds of disputes, he added.
Early resolution of cases through timely and due processes via the project could thin the dockets of regular courts and reduce the backlog crises, explained the chief justice. “A fleet of judges of different ranks and a reasonable number of lawyers” have been trained to help achieve the objectives of ‘Justice on Wheels’.
According to UNDP Country Director Marc Andre, mobile courts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) would lead to a change in the country’s judicial system. He added the travelling courts were not UNDP’s vision but the PHC’s; the development organisation was merely assisting people in getting access to justice.
“UNDP would continue its efforts to strengthen the justice system in Pakistan,” said Andre.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 28th, 2013.