LHC lacking Judges and seeking indulgence of CJP

Shortage of judges could affect rendering of justice

In Pakistan we never realized the significance of justice, whereas justice is crucial for society as it ensures fairness, equality and protection of individual rights. It promotes social harmony by addressing grievances, resolving conflicts and maintaining a balance that contributes to a stable society. Without justice, there’s a risk of inequality, mistrust and social unrest, hindering the overall well-being and progress of a society and this grave situation is presently prevailing in our society.

The Lahore High Court holds significant importance in our legal system of Pakistan. As one of the country’s oldest Courts, it plays a crucial role in upholding justice, interpreting laws and ensuring the protection of fundamental rights. The Court’s decisions set legal precedents, guide lower Courts, and contribute to the development of a fair and equitable and transparent legal system. The Lahore High Court’s jurisdiction extends to a populous and influential region, making its rulings influential in shaping legal standards and contributing to the overall stability and governance of Pakistan.

The Lahore High Court enjoys its strength of 60 judges fixed by the government which is also an inadequate capacity to meet the demand of Punjab’s population and the rising trend of litigations in our society. These days Lahore High Court is overburdened as it is working with 40 judges, two thirds of its strength and lacking 20 judges. This huge deficiency of judges in the Lahore High Court can have substantial repercussions for the judicial system. This deficiency may lead to delays in the disposition of cases, a rising backlog of pending matters and increased burden on the existing judges.

Such shortcomings could hinder the timely delivery of justice, affecting the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the legal process. To maintain a robust judicial system, addressing the shortage of judges is necessary to ensure that pending cases are heard promptly and justly to ensure the rule of law. The Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Mr Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti, should take serious notice of this default to accelerate the process of new appointment of judges on vacant seats before his retirement, which occurs on March 7.

This grave situation in the Lahore High Court seeks the indulgence of the Chief Justice of Pakistan. The Chief Justice of Pakistan often has the authority to address systemic issues within the judiciary and can play a role in initiating measures for appointment of judges. Drawing attention to this matter could lead to actions that help strengthen the judicial system and ensure its smooth functioning.

Crises of justice, including the shortage of 20 judges in the Lahore High Court, is a matter that warrants immediate attention of the incoming government. The judiciary is a key component of a functional democracy and a shortfall in judicial resources can impact and disturb the timely delivery of justice. By engaging with the government there is an urgent need to address this important issue collaboratively. Advocating for the allocation of resources, funding and appointment of additional judges can contribute to enhancing the Court’s capacity and consequently the overall efficiency of the judicial system.

Efforts should be made to improve the judicial system and should focus not only on increasing numbers but also on enhancing the system’s overall efficiency, leveraging technology and implementing reforms to address the specific needs and challenges of the legal landscape. The goal is to ensure that the judicial system effectively serves the growing interest of justice to eliminate the fear of injustice and provide a fair opportunity to flourish every citizen of Pakistan.

Certainly the absence of justice in a society can lead to its deterioration. Justice serves as a fundamental pillar that upholds fairness, equality and rule of law. Without it there’s a risk of social unrest, inequality and a breakdown of trust in institutions. Injustice can breed resentment, erode social cohesion and create an environment where conflicts escalate. Thus the presence of a just legal system is crucial for the stability, prosperity and well-being of any society.

Pakistan faces various challenges, encompassing economic, social and political issues. These challenges include economic disparities, security concerns and governance issues. It’s crucial for the government, institutions and society to work collaboratively to address these challenges and implement effective solutions. Prioritizing justice, good governance and inclusive policies can contribute to stability and progress, fostering a more resilient and prosperous future for the country.

There is an urgent need of judicial reforms in Pakistan and every politician made statements but never ever did anything in this regard. A comprehensive reform can strengthen the rule of law, instill public confidence and contribute significantly to the overall development and stability of the country’s legal framework.

A weak justice system can indeed contribute to an increase in corruption, the main issue of Pakistan which is destroying our society and has become an open secret. A robust and efficient judicial system acts as a deterrent to corruption by holding individuals accountable for their actions. When the justice system is perceived as ineffective or slow, it may create an environment where corrupt practices can flourish as wrongdoers might believe they can act with impunity. Strengthening the justice system through reforms, transparency and timely resolution of cases is crucial for combating a core issue of corruption and promoting a fair and just society.

Global ranking for judicial systems also makes a joke of our judicial system which makes us all Pakistanis embrace and particularly the lawyers and judges, it motivates us to rethink our judicial system for more drastic improvement and addition of IT systems to accelerate its performance and delivery.

While aligning the judicial strength with our population size is a point to be considered to resolve this by combating judicial crises as our population has increased tremendously while we did not enhance our judicial capacity, rather the Lahore High Court is facing acute shortage of 20 judges to meet its sanctioned figure, apart from the fact that is also short of its need, as three seats of the Supreme Court of Pakistan also lying vacant after resigning of Justice Mazhair Ali Naqvi and Justice Ijaz ul Ahsan and the retirement Justice Umar Atta Bundia, l which also must be filled without any delay, from the existing Lahore High Court judges.

Efforts should be made to improve the judicial system and should focus not only on increasing numbers but also on enhancing the system’s overall efficiency, leveraging technology and implementing reforms to address the specific needs and challenges of the legal landscape. The goal is to ensure that the judicial system effectively serves the growing interest of justice to eliminate the fear of injustice and provide a fair opportunity to flourish every citizen of Pakistan.

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Akhtar Aly Kureshy
Akhtar Aly Kureshy
The writer is an Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan, Law Professor, member International Bar Association and former Assistant Attorney General for Pakistan.

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