The very basic problem that has made our justice system both licentious and obdurate is monetary corruption. That is rampant in the justice system and has engulfed it from top to bottom, or at least this is what the public thinks. Since I joined the legal profession, I have not seen a single serious drive to curb the menace of corruption, and the result is a pernicious justice system that has make it redundant in the eyes of general public and obstreperous of law and constitution which they are bound to adhere to. This is despite the fact that there are many who try hard to dispense justice with a sense of duty.
The question that arises is as to why corruption on such a large scale is rampant and the simple answer is that those responsible for it have never been held accountable for their actions. The inaction on the part of the top judiciary or the ones who administer it have made the thought of accountability both quixotic and iniquitous. The judiciary top leadership needs to take stern action against corruption and should make examples out of corrupt judicial officers.
The need of the hour is to look upon the judiciary from the eyes of plebeians and then to take actions accordingly, so that an exemplary justice system can come into being. The lack of action raises question even on the top ranks of the judiciary. Though there are many problems besides corruption that need attention, I argue that it remains the single biggest challenge to the current justice system.
The second major issue concerning the dispensation of justice is inadequacy of training and requisite knowledge that enables the judicial system to solve cases in prudent and fair manner. There is no proper system that looks over the backlog of cases. Even the judges and their staff either don’t bother or there is a lack of will on their part to dispense justice in a speedy manner. There is no system in place that question judges on a regular basis regarding the inadequate and unnecessary delay in deciding cases. And there is no criterion that acknowledges the efficiency of a particular judge to promote the speedy availability of justice.
In a sense, judges do not consider it binding upon themselves to liberate the public from a rotten and inefficient justice system. Though in the past, a few drives against backlogs and delay ware made, they merely proved to be momentary, and with no long-run goals or milestones. We often hear about scarcity and non-availability of adequate facilities and resources. Arguably, a lot can be done even with the current resources available – but it will take sincerity on the part of those who are at the helm of affairs and a general ambition of every member to make the justice system work for the common people.
The manner and quality of training and discipline are key for an organisation or institution to work at its maximum potential. And this is especially so for institutions that deal with common citizens, and whose existence plays a vital role for the proper functioning of state and the system of law and order. A mere glance into the working of our justice system tells us that non-professional attitudes are prevalent. Though there are exceptions, mostly the quality of work has been ruined and the common people have lost confidence on the justice system.
The depoliticisation of judges is considered a benchmark and an emblem of neutrality and is one of the key factors by which a decision is judged or tested. If a judge pursues their political ideas, they may cause injustice and their judgement may be contaminated by a bias or a soft corner. There are many times when you can find people criticising the judiciary on this pretext where they faced injustice only because political inclination tempted the judge to decide in a particular manner. Another aspect of the problem is where judges have political affiliations with different leaders or institutions – even when they are serving. This can result in mass injustice or at times decisions that jolt even the constitutional principles. Hence, there is a need to depoliticise the judiciary.
To begin fixing the Pakistani justice system, and restore the principles of equity, law and justice, the way in which it fails the common people has to be put back in the centre of the discussion.