PESHAWAR: Justice Dost Muhammad Khan’s tenure as Peshawar High Court (PHC) chief justice (CJ) remained dotted with a number of memorable cases and historic verdicts.
Apart from dispensing justice to residents of the province and the tribal areas, Justice Khan’s term saw three major initiatives for the provision of “speedy justice”. These not only decreased the burden on courts but also sought to cut down on pendency and possibly helped restore peoples trust in the judiciary.
Justice on wheels
The country’s first ever mobile court was inaugurated in Peshawar on August 27, 2013. The project was meant to resolve petty civil disputes and criminal cases at the earliest, at the involved parties’ doorsteps.
To date, the mobile court has solved around 100 cases in the three sessions it has conducted; one each in Hayatabad, Daudzai and Tarnab.
Alternative dispute resolution
Inaugurated by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani on January 13, the Dost Muhammad Khan Mediation Centre, established at the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy, will focus on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for criminal and civil cases pending in courts. Judges and mediators will be trained in methods of dispute resolution.
The mediation centre is a first of its kind in the country wherein ADR will be employed at the official level. ADR already exists in the country, mostly in the form of jirgas. However, jirgas have drawn flak from various quarters for violating individuals’ rights and favouring influential people.
Online complaint system
The E-citizens Grievances Redressal System, also inaugurated by the CJP at the PHC’s Human Rights Directorate on January 13, will enable citizens to file their complaints without having to visit the PHC. Through this system, aggrieved parties can file their case through email, telephone or SMS. The complaint will be converted to a written application and forwarded to the PHC CJ who will pass the relevant order. The CJ’s orders will then be communicated to the involved parties and justice will be delivered without delay.
The system will not only save the people’s time but also the money they had to spend on travelling to the PHC.
A judge’s life
Justice Dost Muhammad Khan obtained his law degree (1975-1976) from Government Sindh Muslim Law College in Karachi.
He began his career as a lawyer in 1976 and served in lower and high courts as well as the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He was elevated as a permanent judge of the PHC in 2013.
Justice Khan took oath as the PHC chief justice on November 17, 2011 and served there for two years and two months, before being elevated to the Supreme Court.
During his tenure as CJ, Justice Khan delivered several major judgments: terming drone strikes ‘war crimes’, ordering the government to raise the issue at the UN; a life-long disqualification of former president Pervez Musharaf from contesting elections; declaring fuel adjustment charges illegal; taking suo motu notice of women being barred from voting and ordering missing persons be shifted to internment centres.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st, 2014.