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August 1, 2019

Functioning of Jirgas violative of Constitution, observes SC

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August 1, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that Jirgas and panchayats are not working within the parameters of law and Constitution and held that the manner in which they function is violative of articles of the Constitution.

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by acting Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed, heard a case regarding non-compliance of its order in a judgment related to illegal practice of Jirgas.

The court sought from all the four provinces and government of Gilgit-Baltistan progress report pertaining to illegal practice of Jirgas and directed to submit it within six weeks. Acting Chief Justice SheikhAzmat Saeed, during the course of hearing, directed that the orders of the court must be implemented in letter and spirit. The court was informed that there was no any case of illegal jirgas in the province of Punjab. Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, however, observed that some time such nature of cases come from the province of Punjab.

The court observed that the manner in which these jirgas are organised are in contravention of articles 4, 8, 25 and 10-A and 175(3) of the Constitution. Last year, the court, while announcing the judgement in a petition related to the said subject had declared that any order, decision or direction issued by any individual or group of persons illegal and against the spirit of the Constitution.

The judgement authored by former Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar had held that the operation of jirgars/panchayats violates Pakistan’s international commitments under the UDHR, ICCPR and CEDAW which place a responsibility on the state of Pakistan to ensure that everyone has access to courts or tribunals, are treated equally before the law and in all stages of procedure in courts and tribunals.

The court had held that jirgas/panchayats do not operate under the Constitution or any other law, whatsoever, to the extent that they attempt to adjudicate on civil or criminal matters; however, they may operate within the permissible limits of the law to the extent of acting as arbitration, mediation, negotiation or reconciliation forums.

The court had granted six months to government of KP for the development of infrastructure to take steps to spread a uniform system of courts of ordinary jurisdiction in the province, mandating the local law enforcement agencies to ensure that the rule of law is observed by reducing jirgas/panchayats to arbitration forums which may be approached voluntarily by local residents to the extent of civil disputes only.