Governance and the judiciary need a holistic review

The state of Medina was founded on the principles of the rule of law and the provision of prompt administrative justice, which made it a great emerging state of that era. No state can progress and prosper without fast, inexpensive and timely administrative and judicial justice.

However, Pakistan inherited British colonial governance and the judicial system. Its rulers have made no concrete effort since independence to completely overhaul this outdated system of governance and judiciary that evolved to rule an enslaved subcontinent.

In a free country, governance and the judicial system function to the satisfaction of aggrieved persons by settling their complaints and legal problems on merit in the shortest possible time. There is a perception that people are fed up with bad governance and protracted administrative and legal processes which sometimes consumes the life of a person running from one department or court to another in search of justice .

Steadily declining, Pakistan is among the lowest ranked countries in the areas of governance and judicial delivery, not only in the world but also in the region. It ranks fourth out of six South Asian countries in a recent report published in the area of ​​civil and criminal justice, open government and constraints on government powers.

This alarming state of affairs calls for a comprehensive review of governance and the judiciary by our legislature and policy makers for a bright and confident future for the country. The current governance and judicial system has further weakened our ranking of governance and legal credibility that in almost all international contracts concerning investment in Pakistan, exclusion clauses relating to Pakistani jurisdiction and the application of local laws have been incorporated and no one is there to counter it legally, thus paying a heavy price for the country in international arbitration and adjudication forums.

Apart from Pakistan’s poor ranking in the Corruption Perceptions Index, the country also does not enjoy a good reputation in the world when it comes to accountability, crime and access to justice.

Section 37 of the Constitution also gives assurance of speedy and inexpensive justice in policy principles, but we are lacking in this area of ​​implementation. legal system both in business rules and in substantive law.

For an efficient and credible administrative and judicial system in Pakistan, an institution such as the National Governance and Judicial Delivery Bureau (NGJDB) should be established at the federal level with a mandate to come up with legislative measures to improve governance and the judicial system with a modern contribution of administrative and legal justice. as part of a new “Dispensation of Justice” strategy covering the administrative, civil and criminal justice system.

This institution should also conduct a forensic study first for our entire administrative and judicial system for its improvement and interact with all stakeholders including bar associations and universities for further improvement.

Decisions taken by the proposed institution should be monitored and implemented by the higher authority. Its suggestions and recommendations in the form of a model bill be forwarded to parliament and higher courts for consideration and final input. It is also important that the establishment of new administrative and judicial systems is monitored and dealt with on a semi-annual basis under the aegis of this same institution and with the coordination of other stakeholders for further improvement in the interest of citizens. .

There is also an urgent need to strengthen the alternative dispute resolution mechanism in Pakistan, both on the side of quasi-judicial justice and civil justice. resolution (ADR) through mediation, reducing the time spent on litigation, and strengthening the role of the ombudsman for prompt and inexpensive redress for complainants of maladministration by government agencies.

The workload in the courts is already too great and many of the complaints brought before the Ombudsman do not have to turn into litigation. Such a mechanism can also be introduced in rural areas and extended to the level of district and union councils.

(The author is an Advocate in the Supreme Court of Pakistan. He has held several quasi-judicial and advisory positions in Federal Departments and the Office of the Ombudsman. Email hafizahsaan47@gmail.com)