Sunday September 19, 2021

DRCs need restructuring to speed up dispute resolution

PESHAWAR: The Dispute Resolution Councils (DRCs) functioning in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa need restructuring to make the bodies more effective in order to resolve disputes.

“With an increase in the number of such forums in Peshawar and other districts, the panels need to be reviewed as some DSPs and SHOs inducted ineffective people into these bodies in a bid to oblige them. Some members don’t bother to attend the sessions while others are either incompetent or uninterested in the job,” a source told The News.

The source added that some locals managed to get inducted in the DRCs to improve their social status. “The absence of members from panels on days reserved for them is badly affecting the performance of the bodies tasked to help maintain law and order by settling disputes,” said the source.

Many suggested reviewing the membership of DRC members after every two year, saying that the renewal should be based on their attendance, performance as well as reputation so that no-one can misuse the forum for personal gains. “Those volunteering to work for a DRC must have a clean background as well as experience of working with relevant government departments, local governments or conducting jirgas. Those who are not doing well or who are found misusing the forum for their personal gains must be replaced with people with good reputation,” said the source.

He added the officers, who recommended names of incompetent or ineffective members for their gains, should also be reprimanded. “It is far better to set up one DRC in any circle/division of Peshawar so that an SP rank official keeps a check on its performance instead of setting up more bodies with inefficient and ineffective members. In other districts, a maximum of two or three DRCs will be more effective if better members are inducted and a check is kept on them,” said an official.

The DRCs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are being strengthened to take up thousands of disputes and blood feuds that claimed hundreds of lives every year.

A few more DRCs have started working recently while the rest are being made active to stop or at least reduce the violent incidents due to various disputes. “Lawyers, former judges, ex-military and civilian officers and professors, elders of society, former nazims and other nobles including women are members of the DRCs in different districts of KP who are appointed after their verification from the Special Branch,” an official said.

He added that religious minorities as well as transgender persons were also made members of the DRCs in some areas to address issues related to their communities.

There are still some technical issues due to which many people are hesitant to approach the DRCs. The government and the authorities concerned need to make amendments to the rules so that police officers can involve these bodies in certain cases on their own and make them more effective.

Like jirgas, the DRCs can play a role in reducing disputes in the society. Many violent incidents are being reported due to the local feuds almost daily and the government and society seem to have failed to stop the killings.

Most of the incidents are happening in rural and suburban areas of the province although violence in such disputes are also being reported from urban towns.

All the police officers have been directed recently to compile lists of blood feuds and enmities within their areas, make DRCs active, involve local elders and take measures to settle issues and save lives.

A study of various cases of enmities revealed that most of these started after disputes over property, money or due to ego or honour.

The mafias in property business, supported by the corrupt elements within the revenue department have added to the blood feuds over land in recent years. “The DRCs set up in KP since 2014 settled many disputes in the last over six years. The one in Gulbahar that was the first one set up in 2014 has settled the highest number of cases so far,” an official said.

He added that 301 cases were settled by one DRC in Gulbahar in 2014, 341 in 2015, 401 in 2016, 301 in 2017, 287 in 2018, 195 in 2019, 111 in 2020 and 76 cases have been settled during the current year. The cases settled included property, money and other disputes, inherited property issues, domestic issues within family and others.