LAHORE: While admiring the model courts in Punjab for deciding a large number of cases in a short span of time, Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that injustice should not be done even in a single case in fast disposal of cases.
“Because justice hurried is justice buried,” the CJ said, while addressing the concluding session of the second three-day Punjab Women Judges Conference, organised by the Punjab Judicial Academy, at a local hotel on Sunday.
The chief justice said: “We are lucky that we are governed by a written Constitution. This written Constitution enshrines fundamental rights and if we look up the relevant chapter, those fundamental rights make no discrimination against male or female.”
The CJ said: “Unfortunately, in rustic societies, there may be situations where women are not treated well. But in cities, I feel women are in quite better conditions.
“There is no difference between a civil judge and a Supreme Court judge. Both are meant to dispense justice according to the law, and no one is allowed to dispense justice according to his own will or whims.”
He admitted that the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) system seems to be the only solution to overcoming the backlog of cases and speedy dispensation of justice.
The chief justice said model courts, if they are not working at the cost of delaying ordinary litigation and are providing privilege to those who need it and not to those who don’t, then we should embrace them as the need of the hour.
Addressing the district judiciary judges, the CJ said a single wrong decision by a civil judge could waste many years of the Supreme Court, adding if the district judiciary does justice diligently, it would lessen the burden on the superior courts.
The CJ said being the father of the institution, he advised every judge to understand the law and apply it. Avoid undue delay in cases because it is a disease which causes litigants mental and physical agony.
The CJ congratulated the Lahore High Court chief justice for highlighting the issues related to gender-based violence cases (GBVCs) and gender sensitivity. He appreciated the efforts made in conducting courses and trainings in this regard.
Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that violence faced by women takes physical, verbal, psychological and economic forms, and encouraged women judges to fight against elements which perpetuate violence against women. He acknowledged the need for better access to justice for women through impartiality in adjudication, and reaffirmed his commitment to equality and non-discrimination for all judges, irrespective of gender. The LHC chief justice thanked the Chief Justice of Pakistan for sparing time for the conference. He said that without the support of CJ, all reforms applied in the Lahore High Court and district judiciary could not be possible.
He appreciated Justice Ayesha A Malik for organising the second successful conference and thanked the donors, including EU, UNODC, ADB, WB and Asia Foundation for helping in providing quality justice to the people of the province.
Superior courts judges, Registrar Syed Khurshid Anwar, Director General District Judiciary Muhammad Akmal, Director General Punjab Judicial Academy Mah Rukh Aziz and judicial officers attended the moot.
Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah also shared the figures of the cases decided by the ADR centres and model courts.
Earlier, Justice Ayesha Malik discussed recommendations put forward by the speakers, and inspired women judges to encourage a women-friendly non-discriminatory environment within their courtrooms.
During the conference, Chairperson of Punjab Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) Ms Fauzia Viciar apprised the participants that in 2016, 7,313 cases of violence against women were reported by the office of the IG Punjab, 539 of which were beatings.
Justice Susana Medina, President of IAWJ shared that in Argentina, a domestic violence office which operates 365 days a year, has been established in the Supreme Court, and encouraged courts in Pakistan to follow this practice.
Justice Eusebia Munuo, Justice of the Court of Appeal in Tanzania, highlighted the fact that economic violence is a major problem faced by widows in rural communities in Tanzania.
Justice Saida Chebili, President of the Court of Sousse in Tunisia, emphasised that barriers faced by women when accessing justice must be overcome through rights based awareness campaigns, and education for the masses.
Participants from the District Judiciary, Punjab, inquired about ways to protect children during trials involving domestic violence. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin shared that Children Advocacy Centres had been established to provide psychological and other support services, and that Restraining Orders can be obtained for entire families in violent situations.
In a session regarding sexual violence, Ms Mehreen Siddiqui from PCSW revealed that from January to June 2017, 1,365 cases of rape were reported, while the data collected by PCSW revealed a staggeringly low conviction rate in cases of rape.
ADSJ Shazib Saeed disclosed widespread bias among law-enforcement agencies, which deters women and girls from pursuing proceedings.
Justice Ann Walsh Bradley urged judges to realise the special needs of child witnesses in trials involving sexual violence. Ms Anne Goldstein and Justice Eusebia Munuo talked about the AWIs work to eliminate Sextortion and child sexual abuse in Ghana, and collaboration with medical practitioners, legal professionals, judicial officers, police officers, psychiatrists, religious leaders, and local community leaders to support women who are victims of violence.
Dr Robyn Layton, former Supreme Court Judge in South Australia, shared her experience of conducting Gender Sensitivity Trainings with the District Judiciary, Punjab, and appreciated the efforts of the Punjab Judicial Academy and the Lahore High Court in collaborating to ensure gender sensitivity among the district judiciary. The speakers underscored the need for strong judgments, which play an instrumental role in highlighting inequality, discrimination and violence.
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