KARACHI: Pakistan’s law is hilarious, summed up the participants of the discussion on law and order in Pakistan, organised by the Hamdard Thinkers Forum. They justified their stance by citing Gullu Butt’s 11-year prison sentence and Tahirul Qadri’s nomination in the ‘wanted’ list.

“Gulu Butt was simply carrying out orders. What about those who ordered him?” questioned one of the participants. “The Islamabad Police themselves escorted Tahirul Qadri to the airport when he was leaving for Canada and now they were labelling him a wanted criminal,” he elaborated.

Another theme of discussion was based on the proverb: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’. According to Justice (Retd) Haziqul Khairi, the former chief justice of the Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan, several law commissions were established between 1958 and 1984 but all experiments were in vain.

He termed Articles 62 and 63 legal fictions and argued how a person could decide whether another was a good Muslim or not. “We do not have the ability to read someone’s heart,” he said.

Speaking about the Qisas and Diyat laws, he said that such decrees cannot be considered in cases of intentional and premeditated murder. “In the Raymond Davis case, the judge sold his honesty and freed the American due to foreign pressure,” he claimed.

Former high court judge, Justice Rukhsana Ahmed, complained that it was humanly impossible to handle 140 to 150 cases a day. “Judges are simply overburdened. Even if the number of judges is doubled, there will not be much improvement,” she asserted.

According to Abdul Rauf Qasoori, a law professor at Hamdard University, the reason for delays in justice was that decisions were not followed and implemented immediately.

Highlighting a very absurd flaw in Pakistani law, he said that according to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC), an adult is 18-years-old. The Hudood Ordinance, however, links adulthood with puberty, whereas, in kidnapping cases, a 16-year-old girl is considered an adult.” Citing another example, he referred to Section 21 of the PPC, according to which the principal accused received lesser punishment than the abettor, which is what happened in the Gullu Butt case.

The solution was provided by Commodore (retd) Sadiq A Malik. He suggested adopting the French legal system, which mandated the accused to prove themselves innocent. “This will reduce the burden on the police,” he reasoned.

To this, Justice (retd) Hafiz replied that according to Islamic injunctions, the accused is innocent until proven guilty. “The French legal system does not abide by Islamic laws and conventions,” he said.

Commodore (retd) Malik maintained that the life of a judge is not a bed of roses. They have a responsibility to give fair and impartial verdicts.

“These days, it is the judges who speak, rather than their judgments,” said a participant, adding that the judges were more interested in making headlines than dispensing justice.

The infamous trend of ‘stay orders’ was also scorned at the discussion. The participants suggested limiting the duration of a stay order to 30 days.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2014.