Reforming the judicial system of Pakistan

saddam hussain samo
Saddam Hussain Samo on reforming the judicial system of Pakistan

The judicial system is an important pillar of a state. Without the transparent and fast justice delivery system, all efforts to improve the governance of Pakistan will reduce to ashes. The lost of some tribal territories by the country in past including Waziristan and Swat to Pakistani Taliban was also because of poor justice system. Anatol Lieven, an author of a famous book, “Pakistan a hard country” interviewed the local resident of the area who told him, “Taliban justice is better than that of the Pakistani state. If you have any problem, you can go to the Taliban and they will solve it without you having to pay anything__ not like the courts and police, who will take your money and do nothing.”  From this interview, it can also be reached that the substandard judicial system is also responsible for generating anti-states feelings among the local residents. Thus, the federal government needs to pay an additional attention to bring reforms in the judicial system of Pakistan.

The following measures can be taken to make the judicial system of Pakistan more effective.

  • Reforming the police system:

Police influence the fast delivery of justice by the courts. Police is first to investigate the case and collect evidences. Stronger the evidences, easier will be for the judges to convict the guilty without any delay. Currently, the investigation officers of police, who are responsible for collecting the evidences, do not posses proper training and experience. consequently, they ruin the evidences by trampling over a crime scene. They should be first taught special skills and techniques at judicial academies so that they could collect adequate materials from a crime scene that lead to the fast justice. Hence, the first measure to reform the judicial system must be directed at reforming the police department.

  • Introduction of the customary laws in the judiciary system of Pakistan:

All the people, living in a particular state, possess some unique customs and traditions. They also develop the laws based on their customs called customary laws and these rules and regulations are widely respected by them. In Pakistan, one of the customary laws, related to the judicial system is “Panchayat” or “Jirga system”. Under these customary laws, some respected elders of the society gather and solve the issue between two warring parties by imposing penalties or other punishments. Even today, the Jirga system is widely functioning in many parts of Pakistan, despite its no place in the legal judicial system.

The government should legalize the “Jirga system” with some limitations. It sounds little awkward keeping in views some harsh and immoral penalties imposed under the system in past by the elders like giving the girls in compensation. The state must not give a free rein to the people who give their verdicts under this system. Firstly, all the respected elders of the society should be registered with the state who can call the Jirga for dispute resolutions. Secondly, their judgment must be submitted in the written form in the nearby courts and should not violate the constitution of Pakistan. Third, they should not be allowed to give any criminal punishment like killing of the guilty person, instead refer such cases to the local court. Finally, they need to solve the cases by imposing only financial penalties to the certain limits.

Pakistan’s judicial system was derived from the Britain and in their culture, there was no Jirga system. This system will not only reduce the burden of cases on the main courts, but also ensure the fast delivery of the justice. The local people also prefer to get their minor issues resolved by holding Jirga instead of going to police and involve in the lengthy and non-transparent procedure. Thus, this customary law must be given a legal shape.

  • Changing the official language of courts from English to Urdu:

The English language creates confusion in registering the proper cases. Most of the time, a plaintiff hires an advocate and explains his side to him in his native language. Since many lawyers speak and write very poor English owing to defects in our education system, they go to the translator to get the case translated in English. The lawyer then explains the case to the translator. Afterward, a lawyer submits the written form of the case to the court without being able to read it. In many cases, the translator, while converting it from the native to English language, changes the nature of the case. As a result, it creates confusion among the judges and lawyers. Thus, if the system is converted into the Urdu language, the lawyer or plaintiff would directly be able to write the case without involving the third person. It will not only ensure the case to be presented in its true form, but also help the judges to understand it properly. As such, the language barrier needs to be addressed by switching to the Udru language from English.

  • Increasing the number of judges and improving the infrastructure:

At present, the courts are overloaded with the cases. There are lack of judges and proper infrastructure to adjust the people. For instances, Anatol Lieven writes in his book, “Pakistan a hard country”  “As of May 2009, there were more than 100,000 cases pending before the Karachi city courts, with 110 judges to try them (in a city of some 17 million people)__ which makes for an easy enough calculation. Some of the courts are supposed on paper to attend more than 100 cases a day. Every day, around 1,200 prisoners should be delivered to the courts in Karachi, but there are only vehicles and holding cells for 500.” As such, the number of judges must be balanced in accordance with the population and the infrastructure should be improved as per the number of cases.

  • Upgrading the standard of law colleges:

There is an urgent need to upgrade the standard of law colleges in Pakistan. Not all but many colleges are producing incompetent law graduates who become judges and lawyers afterwards. Owing to their superficial understanding of some legal codes, they completely fail to file a proper case being a lawyer. As already mentioned above, most of them do not know how to write and speak English and rely on translators who change the very nature of the case. Besides, many colleges offer degrees without holding regular classes. They take only examinations in which many students appear and pass the papers by avowedly involved in copying the answers from Internet using their phones. This practice has created many unprofessional lawyers and needs to be stopped. The government has to pay special attention to the standard of law colleges to produce professional law graduates who will then contribute to the further betterment of the judicial system of Pakistan.


Thus, reforming the police system, introduction of customary laws related to judiciary in the existing legal system, changing the official language of the courts from English to Urdu, increasing the number of judges, improving the infrastructure and upgrading the standard of the law colleges are the basic measures needed to be taken by the government to improve the efficiency of the judiciary system. Since the system is very crucial for making better the overall governance and creating good feelings for the State among the people, the administration must consider these reforms on immediate basis.



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