No justice in the judicial system | By Mr Sharif Otho

No justice in the judicial system

It is difficult for a layman to obtain justice in such a complex system. Despite other woes of the system that are common across the world, the Pakistani justice system has many quirks that make it unfair.

To hit the mark, it is difficult for the living to obtain justice, but it is more difficult for the deceased.

The notion of compensation and transmission of the right of heir in the event of homicide is problematic, moreover the verdicts of the lower courts are often the subject of appeals before the higher court which causes incessant adjournments of Justice.

It is heartbreaking to say that the average criminal case takes 10 years to complete.

There are thousands of cases pending even before the Supreme Court of Pakistan. The number of cases pending before the Supreme Court is over fifty thousand.

The burden has increased dramatically, with most cases being appealed. Justice delayed equals injustice and that is why people are opting for other extra-judicial and vicious means of so-called quick justice such as Taliban and tribal courts.

As in the case of Mukhtara Mai, the culprits were sentenced to death. However, they appealed and lengthened the procedure until it was no longer taken as seriously as it was at the time of the commission, otherwise the victim is ready to negotiate.

Her culprits always threaten her. Likewise, the verdict and speedy trial of Noor Muqadam was widely appreciated, but it will decide over time whether justice will be served or there will be appeals until the victims back down.

Another evil that afflicts the criminal justice system is the transfer of the right to the heir of the victim – murdered – to pardon the culprit or obtain compensation for the one who was shot.

This can have huge benefits in settling the case, but it does not guarantee justice. In the case of Qandil Baloch, his brother was acquitted because it was up to his father to decide.

In cases such as honor killings, the killing is often committed by mutual consensus between male family and community members.

To have them judged here is a pure injustice towards the one who was killed in the name of “Honour”. In other cases, family heirs are threatened or lured with money.

Compensation is a great support for the victim only when it is state-sanctioned, voluntary and just.

It was breathtaking to see how Nazim Jokhio’s wife pardoned the culprit and how his brother changed his mind at the time of the hearing.

In all of this, the real victim is devoid of justice. As a poet says, “Mera Qatil hi mera munsif ha, Kia mere haq main faisla hoga” In short, the system should be revamped to make it fast and believable.

Decisions of lower courts should also enjoy a certain level of credibility. The time allowed for the tests must be strictly respected. In addition, the victim should be granted protection until justice is served.

It is up to the state to ensure justice and to ensure that the victims are not intimidated or deceived.

The bargaining power between the victim and the aggressor must be kept in mind when granting compensation or a pardon.

In cases concerning the family – such as honor killings, the history of the relationship between the victim and the wali must be taken into consideration.

To be precise, justice must be served as a fundamental right and not as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder, nor as a mere settlement.

—The author is a Sindh-based columnist.