ISLAMABAD: Undoubtedly, the judiciary in Pakistan works under heavy workload. It would not be an exaggeration to say that workload is another serious drawback in the administration of justice besides the dilemma of “abnormal delays” in the judicial system.
Every day, the tasks at hand at the courts continue to influence the process of providing swift justice to the people.
Yet, we see no clear strategy to deal with the problem except for spending lesser time to a case.
Some wonder why dozens of cases are fixed before a court when it is humanly impossible for a judge to deal with all of them in a single day.
Often it has been observed that an important case comes up and the rest of the cases are leftover for another date resulting in nothing but waste of time and energy, to say the least.
The National Judicial Policy was formulated to address the twin-problems of backlog and delays yet the problems still persist, especially at the district level.
Workload, delay in disposal of cases, an inadequate number of judges and many other problems are not only causing troubles to the litigants but also undermine the public confidence in the judiciary.
The ratio of judges to the population is around 10 judges for one million people – making it one judge for 100,000 people.
Under such dire circumstances, the dream of speedy and inexpensive justice will remain a distant dream. Moreover, public confidence in the legal system was further compromised when the parliament allowed the setup of military courts in the wake of the Army Public School attack.
Despite giving acquiescence, people at the helm of affairs could bring reforms in the existing legal system to restore public confidence but, apparently, this has not been the case.
At the moment, the entire legal apparatus, including policing, investigation, and prosecution, are responsible for roughly 1.7 million cases in backlog in Pakistan.
It is perhaps time to adopt a new approach to make the legal system responsive to the present-day requirements of the society.
One such solution is Alternate Dispute Resolution – a time-efficient, cost-effective and strictly confidential way to resolve disputes amicably world over.
Unfortunately, it has yet to be made a mandatory part of the law in Pakistan.
Legal experts say that another way of dealing with workload is setting a timeframe for cases after consulting with the parties involved in the case.
They say frequent adjournments should be avoided as they are the biggest hindrance in providing swift justice.
It’s time to reduce workload by timely submission of charge sheet, introducing witness-protection program, training of judges and by setting up libraries so that adequate books and other material are available to them as it can strengthen confidence of public in the existing legal system.