Meeting of National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee held in Supreme Court
Islamabad, February 02, 2013 (PPI-OT): Today, a Meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) was held in Supreme Court Branch Registry, Lahore under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan/ Chairman, NJPMC. In his introductory remarks he stated that under the Constitution it is duty of the State to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice; whereas, the judiciary being custodian of Constitution has to keep a check on arbitrary exercise of powers and promote rule of law in the country. He further stated that the unprecedented movement of lawyers, civil society and the masses for restoration of independent judiciary, rule of law and supremacy of Constitution has heightened the expectations of people from judiciary.
To respond the increasing public confidence in the judiciary, the National Judicial Policy was launched after broad consensus and thorough consultation with all the stakeholders of justice sector. The Policy provides strategies to ensure independence of judiciary and provision of expeditious and inexpensive justice to all segments of society without any fear and favour as enshrined in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
The meeting was attended by Mr. Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice High Court of Balochistan, Mr. Justice Mushir Alam, Chief Justice High Court of Sindh, Mr. Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court, Mr. Justice Iqbal Hameed-ur-Rehman, Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court.
Hon’ble Mr. Justice Muhammad Azam Khan, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of AJ and K, Mr. Justice Rana Muhammad Arshad Khan Chief Judge, Supreme Appellate Court Gilgit-Baltistan, Hon’ble Mr. Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal, Chief Justice, High Court of AJ and K, and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Raja Jalal-Ud-Din, Chief Judge, Chief Court Gilgit-Baltistan attended the meeting as observers on special invitation of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan.
The Committee reviews the performance of district judiciary particularly with reference to old cases i.e. cases instituted before 31st December 2008. The High Courts presented the statistics of old cases and details of oldest cases pending adjudication in each district across the country. The Committee observed that after application of National Judicial Policy, the district judiciary has decided millions of cases including 95% of Old cases.
This performance of judiciary has enhanced the confidence of general public in judiciary as well as in the formal justice system. The Committee observed that the results of Policy are quite encouraging, the Courts have by and large achieved the targets and the shortcoming, if any, is primarily on account of persistent shortage of required number of judges and deficient infrastructure.
The Committee showed displeasure on lukewarm response of Government on its recommendations for increasing the number of judicial officers to cope with the increasing workload on the judiciary. The Committee reiterated that it is the obligation of the State to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice under Article 37(d) of the Constitution; therefore, the government should honor the recommendations of this apex body and immediately increase the number of judicial officers to allay the concerns of an ordinary litigant and to meet the challenges of ever increasing litigation.
The Committee also took serious notice of prevailing law and order situation and terrorist attacks on Judicial Officers and asked the Provincial Governments to take all possible measures for protection of Judicial Officers enabling them to discharge their duties in a free and fair manner.
The Committee considered an article published in a newspaper wherein it has been reported that large number of revenue / fiscal cases are pending in Superior Courts across the country and due to stay orders recovery of public money is hanged up.
The Committee asked the concerned authorities to proceed for recovery of public revenues where there is no stay order granted by any Court or has expired by efflux of time as provided under Article 199(4A) of the Constitution. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan directed the High Courts to identify all such cases and make efforts to decide the same as early as possible by prioritizing.
During discussion, it has been brought to the notice of the Committee that retired judges are accepting appointments lower to their status or dignity which is against the highest standards of decorum. The Committee asked the retired judges of the superior judiciary to maintain the highest standards of decorum and voluntarily relinquish the charge of such posts which are lower to their status to earn respect in public and uphold the principle of the independency of judiciary.
The Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan briefed the Committee about the meeting of Sub-Committee responsible for implementation of National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee’s decisions held on 01-02-2013. The Committee was informed that the main focus of the meeting was to identifying irritants, hiccups in the administration of criminal justice system and to suggest corrective measures after consultation with the stakeholders of criminal justice system.
The Committee reviewed the status of Challans in respect of FIRs registered during the year 2012 and also discussed in detail the issues ancillary to administration of criminal justice system. The Committee took serious notice of large numbers of cases where Challans are not submitted timely.
The Committee observed that under 173 Cr.P.C, the Police / Investigating Agencies are duty bound to submit Challans within 14 days after registration of an FIR and non completion of investigation or non submission of Challans in the statutory period is a major cause of delays in the disposal of cases which ultimately earn bad name for the judiciary.
The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan directed the Chief Justice, Lahore High Court to take notice of the situation and issue directions to the Chief Secretary, Home Secretary, Inspector General Police, Prosecutor General for immediate remedial measure and take action against all delinquent Investigation Officers for violating the statutory provisions and dictum laid down by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in the case of Hakeem Mumtaz Ahmed and others vs. State (PLD 2002 Supreme Court page 590).
During the course of discussion, the Committee was informed that the Police usually avoid registration of FIRs even in cognizable offences to show low crime rate. The Committee condemned this practice and asked the concerned authorities to issue directions to all the Station House Officers that if a cognizable offence is reported to them they should immediately lodge an FIR and in case of non compliance he should be taken to task.
The Committee observed that in certain cases the criminals are extorting money from citizens/business community by compelling them to send extortion money through money transfer schemes launched by the cellular companies. The Committee asked the concerned authorities to monitor the affairs of such companies and make it compulsory for the cellular companies to maintain bio metric record of money sender and receiver.
The Committee appreciated that the District and Sessions Judges are regularly paying visits of the jails and considerable number of petty cases have been decided during such visits. The Committee also observed that pursuant to such visits the living condition in jails has also been improved.
The Committee also reviewed the data of offenders released on probation. It was informed that previously the law was not applied by the Courts; however, after implementation of Policy good numbers of offenders have been released on probation by invoking the provisions of Probation of Offenders Ordinance, 1960. The Committee also appreciated that after pursuing the relevant governments the institutional strength of Probation and Parole Departments has been improved.
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