ISLAMABAD: A two-day conference on implementation of the National Judicial Policy concluded on Sunday with a directive for judges to avoid attending public functions and meeting members of other organs of the state.
Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday, presenting his recommendations for the code of conduct, observed that judges must have faith in the Creator who is the only giver of everything and that they must discharge their obligations without fear of mortal being since fearless judiciary is indispensable.
The concluding session was presided over by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry who read out the ‘Islamabad declaration’ which identified shortage of manpower, loadshedding and scattered location of court and tribunals as main impediments to implementing the judicial policy.
Senior Justices Javed Iqbal, Sardar Mohammad Raza Khan, Tassadduq Hussain Jillani and Justice (retd) Rana Bhagwandas, District and Sessions Judge (Karachi West) Dr Qamaruddin Bohra and Supreme Court Bar Association’s secretary Shaukat Umar Pirzada presented suggestions on issues like clearing backlog, reducing delay, role of superior judiciary in implementing judicial policy, ways of enhancing the role of government agencies in implementing the policy, court management and the role of bar in delay reduction.
Pirzada said that incompetent judges who served under the provisional constitution order were the stumbling block which should be removed.
Justice Ramday suggested that the judiciary should put its house in order to deliver justice and demand honesty from others by strictly adhering to merit in the appointment of judicial officers at all levels.
While in the job, conduct of judges including those in the Supreme Court must be checked and they should be held accountable by looking into their assets.
Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said July 5 marked a sad day in Pakistan’s constitutional history when 32 years ago the country’s fundamental law—the Constitution—was suspended and democratic process thwarted.
‘Today, 32 years later, by the Grace of Allah, this representative conference of judges has issued a call for strict adherence to constitutionalism and rule of law and the country is being governed under a democratic dispensation,’ the chief justice said.
‘We are truly at a crossroads,’ the chief justice said, adding that in the past two years the Pakistani society had demonstrated its resolve and ambition to have a fair and effective system of justice.
‘We have been sent a message by the nation, that we are people who aspire to live under the umbrella of rule of law, constitutionalism and effective justice.
‘We cannot choose to ignore this message now. We must let the people know that we are committed to their aspirations,’ the chief justice said, adding: ‘To those who have taken to violent means to resolve their disputes we say that justice system in Pakistan was dedicated to improvement and to the satisfaction of our nation’s objectives.’
The conference, the chief justice noted, had been held against the backdrop of serious and disturbing events that had recently unfolded in some parts of the federation.
‘The events of the past two years as well as the events of the past few months have, in a different way, suggested that effective and efficient system of justice that addresses and fulfils the aspirations of the people is an utmost priority,’ he said.
The Islamabad declaration calls for providing adequate funds to strengthen the capacity of subordinate judiciary to handle the caseload within the timeframe fixed by the policy. Besides, vacant posts of judges should be filled urgently to discourage adhocism in the appointment of judges.
It suggested competitive salary packages for judicial officers and court staff and emphasised the need for mandatory referral to alternative dispute resolution.
Judges and lawyers should be punctual to avoid delays and unnecessary adjournments and ensure success of accountability system. Besides, both the lawyers and the judges should keep a close vigil over their support staff to discourage corrupt practices.
The declaration said the public perception about the courts and kutchehry should be changed through efficient performance and corruption-free environment.
Court environment should be made more conducive and user-friendly for all concerned, the declaration said.