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Dated: 8-September-2013

Today, the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) resumed its proceedings in the Committee Room, Supreme Court Building Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan / Chairman, NJPMC to discuss the left over agenda items.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan, Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court, Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice High Court of Balochistan, Mr. Justice Mushir Alam, Chief Justice, High Court of Sindh, Mr. Justice Dost Muhammad Khan, Chief Justice, Peshawar High Court, Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Chief Justice, Lahore High Court, Mr. Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi, Chief Justice, Islamabad High Court, Mr. Justice Faisal Arab, Judge, High Court of Sindh and Secretary Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan.

Mr. Justice Mohammad Azam Khan, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Justice Raja Saeed Akram Khan, Judge Supreme Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Justice Rana Muhammad Arshid Khan, Chief Judge, Supreme Appellate Court Gilgit-Baltistan, Mr. Justice Ghulam Mustafa Mughal, Chief Justice, High Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Mr. Justice Sahib Khan, Chief Judge, Chief Court of Gilgit-Baltistan also attended the meeting on special invitation.

The Committee reviewed the performance of district judiciary with reference to oldest cases (i.e. cases instituted before 31st December 2008) and appreciated that the district judiciary of Islamabad, Balochistan and Khyber Pukhtonkhawa have decided all oldest cases, whereas, presently there are only 9,405 and 1,450 cases pending in the district judiciary of Punjab and Sindh. The Committee asked the concerned High Courts issue directions to the concerned courts for disposal of all such cases within a period of 30 days by applying different strategies including posting of additional judicial officers to share ever increasing burden. The Committee also asked the High Courts to fill all vacant posts within a period of two months by constituting special committees so that the appointee should be deployed to decide cases pending in different courts for want of non availability of judicial officers. 

The Hon’ble Chief Justice observed that with each passing day the litigation in courts is increasing which reflects the level of confidence in the courts, therefore, the High Courts should draw comprehensive work plan to decide cases expeditiously by adopting a proactive approach.  He urged the Member Inspection Team (MIT) to monitor the performance of courts on daily basis so that the heighten expectation of people regarding expeditious resolution of their disputes can be met. The Committee observed that institution of false and frivolous litigation is also a factor which hinders the process of speedy justice, therefore, to discourage such elements heavy cost should be imposed on the parties who abuse the process of law by filing false and frivolous cases.

The Committee also reviewed the implementation status of its recommendations regarding allocation of additional funds to strengthen district judiciary in terms of human resource and infrastructure and showed displeasure on lukewarm response of relevant governments. The Committee was informed that the Secretary Finance, Government of Pakistan has committed that the provincial governments and High Courts are being taking on board and committed that after holding meeting with the provincial departments necessary funds would draw up a comprehensive plan to meet the requirements of the High Courts with a clear time frame as desired by the Committee. The Committee reiterated that it is the obligation of the State to ensure provision of inexpensive and expeditious justice under Article 37(d) of the Constitution; therefore, the government should honor the recommendations of this apex body and immediately increase the number of judicial officers to allay the concerns of an ordinary litigant and to meet the challenges of ever increasing litigation.

The Committee also reviewed the Project status of Islamabad Model Jail, the Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court briefed the Committee about the progress made so for. According to him after taking possession of proposed land funds have been requisitioned for construction of boundary wall. Simultaneously, design proposals have been invited and last date for submission of such proposal is 15th October, 2013. After deliberations, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan observed that the Project has already been delayed, therefore, all efforts should be made to complete it at the earliest as due to non-availability of jail in Islamabad, the authorities are facing problems and security risks in producing prisoners before the courts.

The Committee considered the statistic of pending revenue cases provided by the Federal Board of Revenue. The Secretary, NJPMC was directed to retrieve data of all such cases from High Courts to ascertain the actual pendency. The Committee also directed that the High Courts should decide all such cases by taking them on fast track. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan observed that there are number of cases wherein stay has been granted by the superior courts resultantly the concerned authorities could not proceed to recover the revenues. Therefore, such cases are required to be decided as early as possible.

The Committee appreciated the Bar for extending their cooperation in achieving the targets of National Judicial Policy and hoped that in future the Bar would also assist the courts for provision of expeditious and inexpensive justice to the people who have struggled for independence of judiciary and rule of law in the country.

The Committee also considered the proposal of installation of unified integrated system for superior courts. The Secretary briefed the Committee about the outcome of meeting of the Representative of High Courts convened on the direction of NJPMC. The representative of National Technology Group (NTG) / Uffaq gave presentation to the Committee about the proposed enterprise content management solution for the Judiciary in Pakistan. After deliberation, the Committee referred the matter to National Judicial Automation Committee (NJAC) for further consideration.

After meeting of the NJPMC, the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan also chaired the meeting of the Governing Body, Access to Justice Development Fund (AJDF). Besides, Chief Justices of the High Courts, the meeting was also attended by the Federal Secretaries of Law and Finance Divisions and Director General, Federal Judicial Academy.

The Governing Body approved projects of different organizations for legal empowerment through awareness. Besides approving Accounts of AJDF for the financial year 2012-13, the Governing Body, AJDF also considered the issue of allocation of funds to the provincial High Courts under Provincial Judicial Development Fund.

The Governing Body also approved proposal for training of judges and lawyers initiated by the Federal Judicial Academy. The Governing Body also considered the proposal to hold one day workshop for awareness of Prisoners’ Rights through AJDF. The Governing Body observed that prisons being an important component of criminal justice system play crucial role in the rehabilitation and social integration of offenders. However, due to overcrowding, maladministration, outdated methods of treating prisoners and lack of proper facilities, the prisons have been converted into criminal’s dens. Therefore, there is dire need to identify gaps in the legislation regulating prisons; and evolving strategies for enhancing the effectiveness of prisons system and resolved that the proposal of workshop would help to make workable suggestions for reformation of prison system.
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