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January 1, 2018

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Strikes on petty issues hinder delivery of justice: LHC CJ

Strikes on petty issues hinder delivery of justice: LHC CJ

LAHORE: Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah on Sunday urged the bench and bar to observe their limits, saying that calling of strikes by lawyers on petty issues was hindering provision of justice in the province.

Speaking at a seminar, titled “Future of District Judiciary” here at a local hotel, he declared lawyers’ strikes and lack of judges as the main hurdles in dispensation of speedy justice at district level.

The CJ dispelled the impression that the system had choked, saying that judges were working very hard. He said the Punjab court system suffered a lot during the outgoing year because of 3,840 strikes, called by lawyers in just 10 months.

The LHC CJ said that as a result of the strikes, around 240,000 cases were not heard in the Punjab. These cases could have been decided on time had the strikes not been observed, he added.

The LHC CJ said that out of three million cases, 2.1 million were wrapped up by the courts in 2017 while 1.2 million were still pending. He said that last year, two million cases were decided by the Punjab courts and during the ensuring year, 2.1 million cases were decided by the judiciary in the province.

Justice Mansoor Ali said that strikes were justified when they were done for a purpose. He pointed out that in reality most of the strikes were called for reasons devoid of substance such as the situation worsening in Turkey or United States.

Elaborating the difficulties faced by the judges, Justice Shah said that there was only one judge in Punjab for every 62,000 residents while there was one for every 4,000 in Germany, for 9,000 in France, for 8,000 in Italy, for 7,000 in Sweden and in Canada for 10,000 people.

Justice Mansoor Ali Shah said that if the international standard of one judge for 10,000 people was adopted, then Punjab needs 10,000 judges, compared with the current 1,771 available judges.

He remarked that according to provisional results of the census, Punjab has a total population of 110 million and a total of 1,771 judges. This amounts to one judge per 62,000 people. Despite facing many challenges, judges are doing hard work with integrity, he added. The chief justice saluted the district judiciary for its excellent work. He said that the situation in which the district judiciary and women judges are working, he could not work in that condition.

“Some people say that the Lahore Chief Justice is against lawyers,” he said. “If I say that the courts [in Punjab] run the way courts all over the world run and nobody misbehaves with anyone nor judge with lawyer and nor lawyer with judge, is that wrong? Is it something to be angry about?”

He encouraged the bar members to approach him and sort out the issues. “I request them [bar members] to come, talk to me; no one needs to misbehave with one another.” Justice Shah said that he had initiated the process of accountability from his own home, yet he had faced a backlash. He said no appointment, posting or promotion was made against merit in his tenure as the chief justice.

He also remarked that there is a need to draw a distinction between getting upset with him and reforming the system. “If I say I take any action, then it will be part of disappointment or reforming system,” he asked. “I don’t want to get recommendations, asking for the transfer of judges. How this can lead to disappointment.”

CJ Shah also pointed out that there is a misconception that courts are not working. They are angry about why the system is changing. Justice Shah rejected speculations that decisions were being imposed on courts.

He said that Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) centres, model courts and special courts can only deliver if the judges understand their true spirit. There is zero tolerance for corruption in the judiciary. He rated the Punjab judicial academy as the best academy of Pakistan which is arranging courses for judges in and outside the country. He asked the participants to adopt positivism; shun fear and decide cases according to merit.

He offered prayers for those judges who died last year. Earlier, Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh gave a briefing about the foreign visit of England saying that courses for judges in Punjab Judicial Academy and foreign countries were being offered.

D&SJ Rawalpindi Sohail Nasir presented the annual progress report of the Punjab Judicial Academy and district judiciary. Representatives of civil judges, AD&SJ and session judges presented proposals for betterment of the judiciary.

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