By Nasir Mehmood
Government collects taxes from citizens in return for service delivery such as provision of justice, security of life and property, defence from internal and external aggression and other general utility services. Among public services, provision of justice is primary responsibility of the state and fundamental right of the citizens.
In order to provide justice, government introduces judicial system (lower and higher judiciary) based on the core principles of impartiality, independent and being fearless, which can ensure easy and accessible justice to the people without any political, ethnic and religious discrimination.
If justice system does not fulfil the said core principles the citizens will dissatisfy from the system for which they are contributing their hard earned income as tax to the national exchequer.
After being disappointed from the system, resourceful people will migrate from society in which they feel insecure towards the areas and countries in which they feel themselves secure, if the judiciary does not deliver justice in letter and spirit. This is the main reason of brain drain of human capital from developing countries to developed countries which negatively impacts socioeconomic development in these countries, including Pakistan.
How to improve justice system and how to make it accessible is a big question for the state and society. To bring reforms in judiciary, there is a need for finance. But our country does not have sufficient resources to introduce long-term reforms in judiciary due to scarcity of funds. However, if technical steps are taken in good faith and systematic reforms are introduced in judiciary it will resolve numerous problems of the citizens without spending huge funds.
In developed and civilized societies, judiciary is totally separate organ of the state and its primary responsibility is provision of justice to the people. Responsibility of the executive is to implement court orders and provide a balanced environment to the taxpayers and business community in the larger national interest.
Besides other reforms, separation of judiciary from executive has been a long-standing demand of litigants in Pakistan. Our executive is already burdened with different nature of responsibilities and does not have time to involve in judicial matter. Due to involvement of executive in petty criminal and land ownership cases, their attention is diverted from administrative matter at district level which negatively impact service delivery to the citizens.
Secondly, people in executive positions don’t have sufficient experience, professional skill and legal background like Judges of Judiciary, as a result quality justice is not provided to the people from the courts of executives. Judicial officer/civil judges and district judges are highly professional people having profound grip over law and their job nature is basically designed in such a way that they remain impartial and independent in dispensation of justice.
As the district administrative officers live in society and frequently remain in contact with general public for resolving administrative matters due to their nature of official duty, dispensing impartial justice is very difficult and big challenge for them.
In this grim situation, if criminal and land ownership cases remain under jurisdiction of executive/district administration it results a disaster for litigants and they are suffering this scourge for the last many years. The responsibility of the executive should be looking after administration of the district and ensure direct service delivery to the citizen to promote good governance and progressive environment in the society. Hence preoccupation of executive in legal cases impedes their core responsibilities which opportunity cost to society is very high.
To resolve this issue, Chief Justice Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Chief Justice of Peshawar High Court Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth, the prime minister and the chief ministers and federal and provincial law ministers as well as opposition leaders in national and provincial assemblies and legal fraternity are requested to introduce reforms in the judicial system which can separate executive from judiciary.
The entire criminal as well as land ownership cases may be handed over to lower (civil and district and sessions judges) and higher judiciary to ensure impartial and independent justice in the society, and excessive burden of cases may be released from the shoulder of executive. If this reform is introduced it will provide sufficient time to executive to focus on administrative issues at district level while judiciary will provide independent and impartial justice in the society, as a result maximum relief can be provided to the citizen.