The most prominent incident in the legal and feminist world in Pakistan at the moment is the Zahir Jaffer case against the state. It is therefore a matter of public interest that rRecently, the complainant (Zahir Jaffer) pompously demanded privacy in the courtroom and ordered the media removed from the courtroom.
In any respectable court, no criminal usually has the nerve to make such gestures. Therefore, we should consider the issue that lets judges, officials and lower-ranking officials fall prey to such wealthy individuals.
Pakistan: culture of corruption is part of life
It has gradually become a business practice in Pakistan to pay certain civil servants, lower-ranking police officers, customs officers and provincial agents, in order to reduce barriers and promote favoritism of the said company or individual. Initially, this was a form of imperfect practice, against which many spoke out. However, now it is considered a necessary cost to run a business. We first allowed this to become common practice and with little to no resistance we allowed it to escalate. Blackmail rates, however, depend on the individuals being bribed.
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In the legal world, because of the excess of legal practitioners, making a name for yourself is a bit like tribal politics. This name from which cashed, allows lawyers to be approached by word of mouth from senior officials and successful businessmen. They then set themselves the task of prolonging litigation and hearings – generally without appearing at all for a few months – and of printing more receipts per document and per court attendance. This tends to be enough to apply for immigration, buy a car, or just sort out bills and household items for the next few years; again, it all depends on the individual making the requests.
Punjab and Islamabad Bar Councils: lairs of corruption!
Continuously delayed hearings, slow wheels of justice, impossible levels of incompetence in documenting and using precedents and rules of law, all lead to a growing sense of failure in the justice system.
So, the natural question arises, what could be the solution? The problem with finding this solution is that at present, the pervasive practice of bribes and “commercial operating costs” has turned it into a pandemic up and down the chain of command. operations.
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Failed Courts: Can There Be Efficiency Incentives?
Maintaining decorum in the courtroom is the duty of a judge. A judge will consider this to be contempt of court, misconduct, bar to trial, etc. if a courtroom gets messy or incredibly manic. Clients, defendants and the media do not dictate the atmosphere of the court to their liking. After all, these are the courts, not the salons of Shah Jehan’s palace.
Likewise, for decorum, it is the judge’s duty to ensure that lawyers behave appropriately. If a lawyer has disappeared and has not argued their case, then the judge must inform the client of the abuses committed by the lawyers and demand a change of consul. Judges, especially in lower courts, are fully aware of these practices, but they do not pursue or resolve this impediment to an ongoing case, rather they simply convey final opinions, that no one, to the except one customer, don’t take it seriously. To motivate judges, the state must provide some kind of incentive to enable expeditious justice to be pursued.
This incentive must be appropriate with checks and balances, as some judges may end cases only for profit – a contradiction in the Pakistani workforce at all levels. If judges forbid the pursuit of expeditious justice, then lawyers or clients must have a forum where a higher body can harshly punish a judge for delaying justice. Delayed justice in high profile cases is practically a political war. Many people get involved behind closed doors to balance the judge’s favor – as a result, the rule of law is totally ignored. While it may be the case, if stiff penalties had existed for court delays, things could have been somewhat better.
Failure of the justice system: moving forward with solutions
Give lawyers some credit. Give the judges some incentive. Clean up courtrooms and turn lower courts into dilapidated buildings – with cat-sized rats crawling like they are the bazaars of old Lahore into something resembling a state office. Create an environment in which a lawyer can look forward to appearing in court to comfortably present their case, and in which a judge is honored to do their job.
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A black badge on a car is too weak an incentive to give a judge a reason to come. If allowances and wages are low – as they are – then the bad practice of sledding customers and taking every possible penny from high profile people will only become a culture. This will make it impossible for any moral or ethical defender to pursue their career with passion, pride and prowess.
A cross-checks and balances approach – as well as the stick and carrot approach – can develop the legal system wonderfully. Overhauling the lower courts, teaching discipline and ethics in classrooms, and developing handbooks to hand out to lawyers at registration and banning bad practices from flourishing will help. These, to some, may seem like very minor or idealistic changes; however, these small, easy-to-do things will ultimately change the legal system – let’s get started!
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The author is a practicing lawyer in Pakistan, having completed his legal studies in London, UK. He provides digital legal services @ legalopinion1 and tweets @ AsadAHussain1. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.