The Court of Arbitration run by Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) in the provincial capital of Punjab, Lahore, has raised concerns among the civil society as well as the legal community which is seeing it as a parallel judicial system in the country, as the government has claimed that it is initiating an investigation into the issue.
The JuD, which is accused by the Indian government and media of having masterminded the Mumbai attacks and several other militant operations in Occupied Kashmir and other parts of the country, has set up an arbitrary court system named Darul Qaza Sharia, Jamaatud Dawa Pakistan and Saalsi Sharai Adalat-i-Aalia (Shariah High Court of Arbitration) in its headquarter, Jamia Qadsia Chauburji, Lahore.
This court is headed by a judge named as Qazi who has court associates named as Khadmeen for assistance in dealing with complaints of the people in a ‘swift and speedy manner’.
Legal experts and human rights activists, while talking to Pakistan Today termed such courts as illegal and parallel courts which have no constitutional status.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned such activities of the JuD court and termed them in violation of the constitution of Pakistan.
Hussain Naqi a senior official of HRCP, told Pakistan Today that the constitution of Pakistan has no place for such courts and the matter must be dealt with seriously as it shows to the international community that the government is fine with having non-state actors run a parallel judicial system in the country.
He termed it as an act which challenged the writ of the government. “The decision by any arbitration courts like this is a violation of the constitution and the violators must be treated according to the law,” he added.
Senior advocate Azhar Siddique said that arbitration courts of the JuD are illegal as they don’t come under any constitutional jurisdiction. He said that if this court simply functions on a panchayat (community court) model then there is no big issue, but it has been reported that these courts are summoning people, which is a total violation of the law and it would be considered a parallel court system in Pakistan. He further said that in some parts of world arbitration courts are legalised by their respective governments but in the Pakistani constitution, there is no place for such courts.
Siddique said the government should look into the matter and take action immediately.
GOVT SAYS IT’S JUST A PANCHAYAT:
Zaeem Qadri, spokesman of the Punjab government, said there was no parallel judicial system operating in the province.
He said the arbitration court operating in Jamia Qadsia is working on the pattern of panchayat where parties bring their disputed matters with consensus for solutions. Qadri said that the government will look into the matter of the summons issued by JuD’s Dar ul Qaza and the matter will be sent to the police.
Pakistan Today tried contacting JuD spokesperson Yahya Mujahid but he did not respond. However, according to media reports Yahya had defended the functioning of JuD’s Sharia courts, saying it is not a parallel judicial system and is not against the constitution. He further said that these courts only decide disputes with the consent of the parties as per Quran and Sharia.