Pakistan’s Justice System, Success or Failure

Since our school-going years, we have been familiar with maxims like these, “Justice delayed is justice denied”. “Do justice even if heaven falls”. Justice keeps balance and order in a society and gears it towards prosperity and progress. While an unjust society cannot even imagine to prosper and progress because it collapses sooner or later due primarily to its unjust order and practices.

Pakistan inherited its legal justice system from the British after partition of the sub-continent into two independent states namely Pakistan and India. The British kept their rule on the premise of divide and rule and most of their policies revolved round this premise as a cornerstone.

In Pakistan, the supreme court of Pakistan constitutionally is the highest body of justice system and is responsible for regulating the legal justice system of the country. It is the final authority to which appeals can be filed and its judgment is considered constitutionally and legally absolute and final. No appeal can be filed against its decision and its verdict cannot be challenged. There are other lower courts namely provincial courts and then session courts which dispense justice at the lower level.

In Pakistan, people seem, to a large extent, dissatisfied with the legal justice system of the country. They have to buy justice at high cost and ,that too, after a long patient wait and delay.

The litigants are mostly illiterate people and our justice system affords no opportunity for these poor souls to get cheap justice and as a result, they are fleeced by lawyers who capatalize on any opportunity to mint money. Through continuous and nagging adjournment motions, the cases are drawn to such an extent that the original petitioners generally pass away and their descendants follow these cases endlessly.

In any justice system the role of police is both crucial and vital. In our country, the very sight of a policeman draws hatred and derision from the public. Pakistani police is hevily politicized and generally geared to serve the political bosses.

Our police department is notorious for inefficiency, corruption and toadyism. If you have first-hand experience of going to a police station, you would know the hassels involved in the process of getting an FIR registered. First, you would enter the premises of a police station fearing the guards appointed at the entrance. The very look of these officials arouses sense of fear and a feeling that you yourself may be locked in jail at any moment. You would beg them to inform you whether the saab (SHO) is present in the station or not and in many cases you would have to grease the palm of these dutiful officials to get access to the SHO. After meeting the saab (SHO), you would narrate your hard-luck-story and would want an FIR registered. If your opposing party is an influential one, you would cry in the wilderness for getting the FIR filed. The saab (SHO) will pressurize you to shun the case and force you to compromise on some give and take. It happens in murder and other serious cases where the accused is likely to get hanged or serve life imprisonment.

In civil courts, the situation is worse. A maxim goes in our courts that, to get justice, litigants should hire a good judge instead of a good lawyer. The poor and uneducated strata of our society is the most hit and marginalized class. They have to spend life-time savings as fees for lawyers to buy justice. In a county where people have to buy justice and litigants have to wait for generations for the final settlement of their cases, such a society sooner or later noosedives into abyss of decadence and degeneration. The above mentioned situation paints a very gloomy picture of our justice system which has been unsuccessful to deliver as per needs and aspirations of the public.

Here are some suggestions to reform and streamline our justice system.

Firstly, our police department should be depoliticised and purged of corrupt elements. The police should be modernized and equipped with latest technology to detect criminals successfully.

Secondly, our police should be brought up with moral training. They should consider themselves as public servants and not masters.

Thirdly, our court system needs judicial reforms. Cases should be heard on merit and there should be a specific time frame for the settlement of cases. Cases should not linger on for generations.

Fourthly, the government should set up a free judicial assistance service which will ensure to provide legal help to those poor litigants who cannot afford exorbitant fees of lawyers.

Fifthly, the government should set up more courts at district and Tehsil level to provide cheap and speedy justice at grassroots level.