An 80-year-old-man, struggling to walk, climbs two stairs, then waits for a moment to stabilise his breath, and then starts climbing the stairs again cautiously as there is no facility of electricity. After managing to climb the stairs, he wanders around to find a chair – all of which are occupied by others.
This is not the scene of a court of any distant and backward part of the country. This is the district courts of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
Islamabad is a planned and geographically small city, which naturally makes it easier to govern. The functioning of every government department needs be ideal here.
Its police should be a model police, as well as its administration. Its district courts should have been highly standardised, setting a benchmark for the rest of the country. But the reality is quite miserable.
The lower courts of Islamabad are located in rented shops and plazas. Our country’s capital does not possess a proper judicial complex. It ought to be built in the premises of the current Islamabad High Court. That can only happen when the new building of the Islamabad High Court is completed. It has been under construction for the past six years, with no sight of completion in the near future.
Judges, lawyers, litigants and the administrative staff of the lower courts face a hosts of problems in the current premises. The size of the court-rooms are very small; the facilities provided to the judges of the lower courts are also deficient.
Lawyers and litigants also suffer. There is no proper guidance about the location of court-rooms. This usually results in a person having to move around the entire premises of the courts to find judges and court rooms. Also, finding judges’ clerks’ offices is also a cumbersome task as they are also located at an unspecified location.
The entire court premise is in a dilapidated condition. Electric wires are lying on pathways. No proper seating arrangements are made for litigants and visitors; nor is there any drinking water facility or toilets available for them. Due to the faulty sewerage and drainage system, court premises are inundated with water during rains. The concerned authorities have also written about the vulnerability of lower courts building to earthquake damage.
There is also no separate room to meet minors in court, and it is done in court rooms which are already very small.
Furthermore, due to increase in the number of lawyers, the construction of new chambers for them has also become a pertinent issue. For 3000 lawyers in the lower courts of Islamabad, there are only few hundred chambers, due to limited space in the existing court premises.
This issue starts from the absence of a judicial complex and ends there too. It is suggested that development funds may be earmarked on an emergency basis to build the judicial complex in its reserved area in Sector G-10, while development work on the new Islamabad High Court building is expedited. The federal government’s apathy in building the judicial complex can only be galvanised through the lead role of the honourable chief justice of Pakistan.
The writer is an Islamabad-based lawyer. Email: email@example.com
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