Jirga can only rule on civil cases, CJP says | Pakistan Today

Jirga can only rule on civil cases, CJP says

  • Justice Nisar warns against taking disputes to Jamaatud Dawa, says judging criminal cases beyond jirga’s jurisdiction 

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Thursday said that judging criminal proceedings is beyond jirga’s jurisdiction, while recommending that its scope be limited to civil cases only.

The CJP was hearing a vani and sawara (marriage of underage girls against their will to settle murder and tribal disputes) case first taken up in 2005 during former chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry’s tenure.

Deeming the jirga system “against fundamental rights”, Justice Nisar said that jirga and panchayat (tribal councils) cannot have the right to vani girls and award capital punishments.

The top judge further warned that ruling on cases by Jamaatud Dawa is also illegal.

“Some people take their disputes to Jamaatud Dawa, which then imposes heavy fines. This is illegal,” he said.

Defining the limit of a jirga’s legal powers and jurisdiction, Justice Nisar said, “Only minor civil disputes can be settled through jirga and panchayat and approaching them in such cases is fine. However, jirga rulings on criminal cases intrude on the legal jurisdiction of Pakistani courts.”

The top judge also inquired from the advocate generals if any legislation in this regard had been done at the provincial level.

Urging the federal government to take remedial action, he said that a law should be drafted in this regard and sent to the parliament.

“Only parliament [then] can pass or reject such a law,” he added.

The CJP was told by an advocate general that the Sindh High Court has already declared the jirga system as illegal.

At this, Justice Ijazul Ahsan added: “KP and Balochistan have the most number of jirgas.”

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