‘Judiciary ‘caught’ in 19th Century justice system’


Speaking at an international conference on ‘Justice for All and Impunity None’ organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Lahore High Court (LHC) Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on Saturday said that the justice system of Pakistan, even in the 21st Century, was being run by out-of-date laws, tools and procedures introduced on the threshold of the 19th Century, which had put the judiciary in a “procedural syndrome” that delayed and denied the common man justice.
Saeed clarified that the fault for that did not lie with the judiciary or that it lacked the will to deliver. He said that the legal justice system in the country had not delivered according to the masses’ expectations, despite all honesty on the superior judiciary judges’ part. The judge chaired the second session on second day of the three-day international conference on Saturday, attended by lawyers from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and other states of the region.
On the subject of the day “Justice and Impunity: Its portrayal by the Media,” Justice Tasadduq Hussain Jilani, who presided over the first session, senior jurist and co-chair Abid Hassan Minto, former SCBA president Munir A Malik, talk-show host Hamid Mir, Absar Alam, Ayaz Amir, Barrister Ali Zafar, Soli Sorabjee of India and Paikiasothy Saravanamutta also spoke to the gathering consisting of foreign delegates from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, the UK and Afghanistan.
Saeed disapproved of state-imposed regulations on the press and said if the press was muzzled, it also had an impact upon the judiciary. In Pakistan, he said, journalism was not child’s play, as many journalists had lost their lives, many others were exposed to threats, while many had been tortured and kidnapped in the line of duty. He appreciated the media’s self-policing policies and hoped that with the passage of time it would groom and learn to do things in an increasingly balanced manner.
Justice Jilani, expounding upon the present-day need of peace said, in an age of global interdependence, in the wake of 9/11 and the rhetoric of so-called clash of civilisations, the media’s role had assumed an added dimension. He said divisive forces were working on the people religiously, culturally and politically, adding that the media had a role in identifying conflicts, initiating dialogue, involving groups through unbiased coverage and well balanced analysis.
In the context of Pakistan’s ties with neighbouring India, millions had suffered in communal conflicts and in the pursuit of lopsided ideals, he said. Senior Jurist Abid Hassan Minto said Pakistan was a divided society where feudal lords and others under the guise of religion etc ruled the subjects, overriding democratic principles and the authority of the constitution. Ayaz Mir picked flaws in the media and said it was merely promoting the vested interests of political parties.
Hamid Mir defended the media and said that it was the media which stood against ‘dictator Pervez Musharraf’ at a time when the political leadership had taken shelter in Saudi Arabia and the US. He said media persons faced many hardships to ensure democracy and an independent judiciary in the country.