KARACHI, March 1: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar on Saturday said that separate courts and prisons for women would be set up, along with similar facilities for juveniles, across the country.
He was speaking at the third Annual Judicial Conference (Sindh), 2007, held here at a local hotel. An online court proceedings project and monthly law journal of the Sindh High Court was also launched which, the organizers said, would provide important information to lawyers, litigants, students of law and the public regarding cases and judgments.
Justice Dogar said access to justice was now widely recognized as a fundamental human right; however, the path leading to the attainment of this right was full of difficulties for the common man and the existing process of obtaining justice was also time-consuming and expensive.
“Though litigation continues to rise basically on account of the disputant nature of human beings coupled with the increasing population, uncountable controversies do not reach courts for lack of resources and the necessary means to avail legal remedies,” he said, adding that there was a lack of awareness amongst litigants.
“In fact, they are forced to spend their hard-earned resources to pursue the legal course of action and to achieve their legal right, which has been denied to them,” he said.
Terming the role of related agencies such as the police, jail authorities and forensic science laboratories as pivotal, the chief justice stated that unless the courts got proper assistance from these agencies, the progress and disposal of cases could not be meaningful while prolonged investigations, delay in submission of challans, non-production of undertrial prisoners before the courts and the absence of the requisite chemical and forensic lab reports caused delays in the disposal of cases and the consequential backlog.
“Unfortunately, litigation in its present form goes through a protracted process as a criminal case takes several years to reach its finalisation, while a civil case goes on for decades and for generations, while nobody knows who will be its ultimate beneficiary,” he added.
He underlined the need to establish a social order where the time and resources of the people were utilised in positive activities leading to the development and prosperity of society.
The chief justice also urged all the judges and judicial officers to dispose of old cases on a priority basis.
Justice Dogar further said that a few years ago, the government, in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank, had launched the Access to Justice Programme, which envisaged the construction of new court buildings, the provision of necessary equipment to courts and improvements in the police and jail departments in order to improve the judicial system of the country.
However, he said, the programme suffered from the usual red-tapism, its implementation has remained lopsided and not cohesive to address and resolve the issues of the agencies concerned, adding that there have been complaints of inadequate consultation with the relevant stakeholders, particularly the judiciary, while the bar had also expressed reservations.
“The programme was conceived in 2000 and reached the execution stage in 2002. Since then, different schemes under the programme have been processed and work on different projects has started, but only a few could be completed while most of these are still under way. We hope that the execution of the projects is expedited on a priority basis so that the programme achieves the aims for which it was launched,” he said.