ISLAMABAD - The provision of inexpensive and expeditious justice is a dictate of the Constitution and a prime responsibility of the state, said Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while chairing National Judicial (Policymaking) Committee meeting here at the Supreme Court building on Saturday. The chief justices of Federal Shariat Court, all provincial high courts and Islamabad High Court attended the meeting. The National Judicial (Policymaking) Committee was established as a statutory body to coordinate and harmonise judicial policy in the country with a view to improve its capacity and performance. In line with the constitutional mandate and with a view to respond to the increasing public confidence in the judiciary, the National Judicial Policy was launched in June 2009. The CJP stated, We embarked on the path of reforming the administration of justice in the country in a manner to realise the goal of ensuring access to justice for all and dispensing free, fair and expeditious justice to those who suffer violations of their rights or any wrong or mischief or grievance. The judiciary, as a third pillar of the state, is required to perform this onerous responsibility and be able to discharge this function, the Constitution provides for necessary safeguards as regards to independence and impartiality of the courts, he added. Independence of impartiality is the minimum prerequisite for free, fair and impartial dispensation of justice. The judiciary has taken great strides to strengthen its independence and enable the courts to deliver, the CJP said. This policy was formulated after broad consensus and thorough consultation with the relevant stakeholders of the justice sector including judges, member of the bar, law officers, prosecutors, etc. Under the policy, certain targets were fixed and guidelines prescribed for expediting trail proceedings with a view to reduce pendency and further create a clean image of the judiciary, he said. The targets set by the policy have largely been realised, the CJP said and added that actions were taken against the corrupt judicial officers and staff. The district judiciary performed well and decided record number of cases. The performance is being monitored. There are some shortcomings and lapses, discussed from time to time. The high courts could not keep pace, primarily on account of the persistent shortages of strength in such courts. In some regions, the National Judicial Policy successfully achieved the targets and eliminated backlog altogether. The district judiciary of Balochistan in particular did very well. It is currently poised to decide any civil or criminal case within a period of six to nine months from the date of filing of a suit or complaint. This is a remarkable indeed. The district judiciary in the other provinces is also catching up, said the Chief Justice. The success of the policy has led to enhanced confidence of the general public in the capacity and ability of the courts to decide disputes. This enhanced confidence has led to increase in the fresh filing of cases, which is a good omen for the nation. It not only signifies increased public confidence in the judicial system but also public adherence to following the rule of law. It also shows greater public awareness about their rights and obligations, remarked Justice Chaudhry. The judiciary must therefore prepare itself to meet the challenge. The CJP stated, I am glad to say that all these achievements were made by utilising the existing resources by improving court management, and of course, due to the active cooperation of the bar. With continuous reform in the judicial system and acquisition of necessary skills and expertise, we can further improve the functioning of the system.