The upper house of the parliament has proposed a substantial increase in the number of Supreme Court judges in order to ensure speedy justice to litigants. The proposal to increase the number of judges from the current 17 to 26 has been floated by the Senate Committee of the Whole House after discussions with stakeholders. I think Senators have been knocking the wrong door for speedy justice system because the numbers of judges had also been increased in past but did not tackle the challenges of delayed justice. Pakistan’s estimated population is 191.71 million in 2015 and number of judges of Supreme Court for such large number of population is only 17. While India, which has a population of 1.2 billion, has a sanctioned strength of 31, Bangladesh which has almost the same population as ours has at the moment nine judges, the UK has 12, and the US nine justices. There are few other problems which is necessary for our government to take into consideration, which are following.
Firstly, the problem is stuck in our legislature. Our legislature is not competent enough to do best form of legislation. They are unable to frame proper law on proper time. Pakistan got independence in 1947 but they are still unable to prepare a blasphemy law which is spick and span. Mumtaz Qadri got the life of Salman Taseer, former governor of the Punjab, in name of the blasphemous crime. Many People lost their lives in the line. Proper legislation of the parliament is much more needed to solve the problem of delayed justice system. A law needs to be legislated that would bind judges not to adjourn the cases. Legislator should bind the judges through legislation to deliver justice in specific time. Will not it compromise justice? Delivery of justice should be the objective rather than time span in which it is delivered?
Secondly, Pakistan executive pillar, especially law enforcement agencies have also much more important role to play. Police do not collect correct information’s or facts from the scene of murder or from place where the crime is committed, in addition to they also take bribe from defendant party to pen down wrong information’s in First Information Report (FIR). So it becomes a problem for judges to find out correct information’s and give speedy justice.
Thirdly, our judiciary system is not free from corruption, bribe and other illegal activities. As Chief Justice Jawwad S Khawaja said, addressing a full-court reference held in connection with his retirement, “Judges, lawyers and executive are responsible for the deterioration of the justice system in the country”. Pakistan’s superior judiciary motivated by self-preservation and self-interest, has failed to uphold the constitution. While superior courts have validated military interventions, military regimes have manipulated judicial appointments, promotions and removals, steadily purging higher court benches of independent-minded judges. This has pushed the judiciary further to the ideological right.
One major problem is the lack of awareness about the judicial system of this country amongst the masses. People are hence exploited by the lawyers who keep fetching money and at the end give no positive results, these results in compromised justice.
Pakistan judicial system is divided into three parts, Supreme Court, High court and Session court (lower court). Basically people are more dependent on the lower courts than the higher courts. At initial stage, the people file their civil and criminal case in the lower courts. In case of non-satisfaction from the decision of the lower court they go on appeal to the high court and then to supreme court. Our government should support the lower court instead of increasing the number of judges in Supreme Court. If the judge in lower court is well educated and trained, it would not lonely handle the case in better way but can also decrease the backlog of appeals to the high courts.
The security of the judges is also one of the factors of the delayed justice system. Judges in lower and high courts are not provided proper security. They are either intimidated or harassed. For example, the judge who sentenced life imprisonment to Mumtaz Qadri, the murderer of governor Punjab Salman Taseer, was harassed by lawyers who even entered his chamber to kill him, but luckily he escaped unhurt. Eventually, he left the county along with his family owing to death threats.
The introduction of the witness-protection program is also a must. Mostly witnesses are not ready to give testimony against defendant party due to fear. In the cases of Ajmal Pahari, Kamran Madhuri and Wali Baber all the eye witnesses were killed systematically because of the absence of any security program for them.
So Government should give focus on the aforementioned challenges, instead of increasing the numbers of judges in Supreme Court. Increase in number of judges of Supreme Court is a cosmetic measure which will not serve any real purpose.
Writer: Ziaullah Khan
The writer is law student at Islamia College University, Peshawar, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE PASHTUN TIMES