Justice for all Print

Courtesy: Malik Muhammad Ashraf

The International Judicial Conference

Justice ensures peace, harmony, tranquility, progress and rule of law in a society, lack of which leads to chaos, upheavals and disharmony which can ultimately lead to the falling apart of the society or a civilisation. Dispensation of justice forms a cardinal principle of all the constitutions of the civilised nations and recognised as such by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations. That is the reason why judiciary, charged with the responsibility to administer justice according to the law of the country, is held in the highest esteem and considered as the most sanctimonious institution of the state. As protector of the fundamental rights of the citizens and custodian of the constitution, the judiciary makes sure that all the state institutions function within the parameters of the constitution and the individual liberties are not encroached upon or denied to the citizens.

Justice is the cornerstone of the tenets of Islam. It is considered as a supreme virtue which stands next in order of priority to Tauheed (belief in unity of God) and finality of the prophethood for any Muslim. It is also in conformity with two attributes of God: Al-Adil (just) and Al-Muqsit (dispenser of justice). The Holy Quran says, “Allah commands justice, the doing of good and liberality to kith and kin and He forbids all shameful deeds and injustice and rebellion; He instructs you that you may receive admonition.” (Al Nahl 16:90)

The rapid globalisation and an enhanced interaction among the states and their citizens have made it imperative for the nations to evolve collaborative mechanism to deal with issues and crimes that transcend the geographical boundaries and are affecting the entire comity of nations in one way or the other, in addition to ensuring cheap and prompt justice within their own territories. Hence the need for coming together of the judiciaries of different countries to deliberate on the ways and means to deal with those problems, firm up strategies for coordinated action as well as benefiting from each other’s experiences. This is normally done through the holding of international judicial conferences.

In this regard, Pakistan has had the honour of hosting a three-day International Judicial Conference during April last year and it has again been honoured with yet another conference in Islamabad (19th to 21st April). During the last four years, since the restoration of the SC judges, the judiciary under the stewardship of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has adopted a proactive judicial policy and given landmark decisions, particularly in regards to combating corruption and rectifying other maladies afflicting the judicial system in Pakistan.

The National Judicial Committee approved a new National Judicial Policy in May 2009 with the input coming from all the relevant stakeholders. The salient features of this policy were: deciding cases within shortest possible time by the superior courts, zero tolerance for all types of corruption in the judiciary, establishment of cell for eradication of corruption in the high courts, disciplinary action against judicial officials having bad reputation, provision of legal aid to the poor through legal aid committees of the bar councils and discouragement of false and frivolous litigation by taking action under the relevant rules.

As a result of these measures, considerable improvements have been effected in the trial procedures as well as appointment of the judicial officers. Arrangements have also been put in place to improve qualifications, knowledge, conduct and efficiency of the judicial officers through pre-service and in-service training in the judicial academies. For expeditious disposal of cases special techniques like recording of evidence through commission and adoption of ADR have been employed.

The chief justice has given a new direction and vision to dispensation of justice and has been striving very hard to restructure judiciary in line with the emerging national and global realties and demands of justice. He has strengthened the bonds between the bench and bar by maintaining close liaison with the legal community and bar associations through his personal visits to their offices and sharing his views on how he contemplated to reform the judicial system and what role he expected from the bar in the efforts to improve the quality of justice and removing the systemic stumbling blocs. The International Council of Jurists, in recognition of his contribution to the administration of justice, conferred on him the ‘International Jurist Award’ at its gathering in London in 2012. It was not only a personal triumph for him but also a great honour for the country.

The recent moot of the luminaries associated with the legal profession from UK, India, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan focused its attention on issues like environmental pollution, money-laundering and terrorism, litigation of public interest, dispute resolution, parental child abduction and transnational jurisdiction and role of judiciary in the developing world, with emphasis on how the judiciaries of different countries can help in dealing and combating crimes in these areas and the legislative measures required to improve dispensation of justice in this domain and developing mechanisms for collective efforts on the international level.

Pakistan currently is the biggest stakeholder in combating terrorism as no other country has suffered the way it has been affected, though the phenomenon has now engulfed the entire globe. The crime of money-laundering is also profoundly affecting the economy of Pakistan besides other negative consequences of this burgeoning criminal activity. Environmental pollution is also an acute problem. The other identified topics for the conference are also of grave concern for Pakistan. The collective wisdom of this moot in the form of the recommendations firmed up on its conclusion, can surely benefit all the participating countries and Pakistan in regards to further legislative support required for the judiciary in improving the quality of justice and removing other shortcomings in the justice system that affect the fundamental human rights.