Judicial Reforms

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Current situation

According to the 2017-18 World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, Pakistan’s score is the worst with its standing 105th out of 113. The main reason is delay in the cases. Data collected by lawyers at the Legal Aid Office from May 2013 to March 2016 shows that out of the cases scheduled to be heard during this time, 58.65% were adjourned. The lawyers are mainly responsible for delays in trials. Judges allow lawyers to adjourn cases without any reason and because of that, they misuse their powers. Lawyers in Pakistan get paid by appearances in the court, so they ask for adjournment which delay the cases, for their own monetary benefit.

During the last five years, the number of cases pending in the Supreme Court has gone more than double to reach the highest level for the last 15 years. According to a World Bank report, 2018 the court procedures in Pakistan are complicated, lengthy and expensive. On average, it takes 1,071 days to settle a commercial dispute in court (Ahmed, 2019). As of 15 January 2019, 41,102 cases are pending in Supreme Court, 306,985 in all five high courts and 1,456,788 in district courts.

Promises from PTI Manifesto and Imran Khan’s first address to the nation

1. Justice system will be revamped. Speedy justice will be ensured. Cases will not go beyond one year. Cases of widows regarding the property will be tackled at a fast pace.

2.We will launch a judicial reforms programme that will provide speedy and quality justice for all citizens.

3.We will create special courts and dispute resolution forums to resolve intellectual property matters and copyrights.

4. We will carry out an audit of existing federal and provincial women protection laws to identify gaps and undertake legal reforms as part of our commitment to women empowerment.

Progress

14 September 2018

The Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Dr. Mohammad Farogh Naseem announced to introduce amendments in civil law to speed up the pending cases. He said that a mechanism of three phases to monitor civil cases would be introduced for their early disposition. In the first phase, main cases will be heard, in second phase, other matters pertaining to stay orders, will be discussed and in the final stage evidences would be recorded. A board of lawyers would be formed to collect evidence as to save time of courts. The whole procedure would be done within 75 days.

The Supreme Court (SC) inquired about the six steps proposed to end delays in justice system.  The national and provincial governments, high courts and superior bar associations were inquired. The six steps are framing of high court rules, reinterpretation of civil procedure code, publishing relevant judicial data/statistics, formulating a new judicial policy, enforcement of the law of costs, and enforcement of anti-perjury laws. The court was hearing a case on a petition seeking reforms by amending the existing the high court rules, headed by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar.

27 September 2018

Ministry of Law sought recommendations from all stakeholders to reform the criminal justice system by inculcating use of modern technology. The law minister, Dr Farogh Naseem, said that delay in justice cannot be abridged without technologies like e-mail data and CCTV footage. He further said that reforms are also needed in filing of first information report (FIR) as its system is lengthy and difficult.

4 October 2018

In order lessen burden of civil lawsuit on judges, the government has planned on establishing an ‘evidence commission’ where a court-appointed panel of lawyers will record evidence and assist the court in early conclusion of a civil case. This will save court’s time and help in speedy judgment.

11 October 2018

The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar said that the government has plans of removing the option of second appeal in the code of civil procedure (CCP) cases as to not cause delay. The second point was related to improving the mechanisms for registration of contracts related to sale and lease of land.

Fakhar ur Rehman, Senior Correspondent, CNN Turkish, explains the progress, challenges and limitations of the government in reforming judicial sector.

8 November 2018

The Task Force on Civil Law Reforms devised a policy to reform the Code of Civil Procedure in order to bring it in line with the current issues. The task force created its terms of reference (ToR), which include: the speedy and fair trials, amendment of archaic substantive and procedural civil laws; adjudication according to accepted judicial and statutory principles of law, and a complete overhaul of the civil justice system, including the laws of evidence.

28 November 2018

The ministry of law and justice proposed drastic changes in the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) regime and empowered the interior secretary to send MLA requests to and receive from foreign countries. Previously, the reason for foreign countries not complying with request of information on foreign assets was the non-availability of MLA law. MLA law will facilitate the stolen asset recovery from abroad.

Law ministry has proposed spot check in which the judge conducting the trial would be able to conduct spot inspections for a just judgement of the case. The ministry has recommended several amendments in the law for the speedy disposal of cases like the amendments in the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2018. A new concept of a two-tier system has also been proposed. In the 1st tier, the main case would be heard by one judge without interruption till finalization of the proceedings. Stay and other miscellaneous applications would be heard in the 2nd tier by another judge.

29 November 2018

The PTI government has appointed 104 law officers to represent it in the Supreme Court and five high courts.

22 January 2019

The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP), Asif Saeed Khosa, said that the Supreme Court (SC) would clear all of criminal appeals within three months.

6 February 2019

The Supreme Court decided to introduce e-court system to provide video link facility for lawyers’ arguments between the principal seat in Islamabad and its four branch registries of the country. It further aims to reduce the backlog of 40,535 cases.

7 February 2019

The Supreme Court’s performance in terms of disposal of cases was reviewed in full court meeting under Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa. It was noted that during 2018 the top court received 6,407 petitions and decided 6,342 cases, whereas 40,535 cases are still pending. The full court expressed satisfaction over the disposal rate and discussed different strategies to reduce backlog and implement ways for smooth functioning.

11 February 2019

hief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, said that the training of investigation officers and prosecutors should be carried out in the judicial academies across the country to improve their professional standards during the meeting of Law and Justice Com­mission of Pakistan, (LJCP). The main agenda of the meeting was the implementation of public complaints redressal mechanism, to improve the quality of investigation and inculcate reforms in criminal justice system.

25 March 2019

The implementation of Unit Policy has reduced the pendency of cases in KPK. The total pending cases at the end of September 2018 was 2,04,958, which has been reduced to 1,99,365 cases during last six months. The digitalisation and the Case Flow Management Information System (CFMIS) has been introduced in four districts of Mansehra, Abbottabad, Torghar and Swat to capture real-time data and cases’ update information. The system would be extended to seven more districts under the pilot project. The video-conferencing technology had been initiated for consultation with district judiciary on key issues and for getting their feedback. The registrar said that hectic efforts were being made to reduce the pendency by 25 to 30 percent by the end of August 2019.