The fate of litigants and justice in the lower courts is worth describing. To begin with, in every court all litigants of which there are hundreds (per court) are given the same appointment time i.e 8 am. This is truly archaic. It is good both for the judges and litigants that working day is divided into three sessions and litigants asked to report in one of the three slots.

The sudden absence, short leave or even call from session or senior civil judge is enough to disturb or obliterate the adjudicating session of any one day totally and no apology or accommodation is made in next day’s work to the litigant who might have travelled from far flung areas. As the use of computer software based appointment system is not in vogue so it is not uncommon for High Court appearance of a lawyer to coincide with his appearance in a lower civil court. Consequently both judge and the litigant have to wait while rescheduling occurs. Even for hearing of statues which have mandatory time limit to make decisions like rent restriction ordinance or Illegal dispossession act there is no dearth of cases which take three times the time and there is no penalty on the judge who choose to delay which is unconstitutional. In fact rather directions are given from above to complete the case by announcing some new date thus approving an unconstitutional act. Courts especially lower courts have no full time stenographers/typists and so in final judgements it is not uncommon for litigants to find statements attributed to them which were never made. Courts do not have solid independent teams to make an inquiry which is essential as some times architecture of a disputed property is important to the case.

It is not possible now even after years of strict vigilance of the CJ of various courts to obtain any court paper or even schedule an emergency case in a higher court without some extra fee or influence mostly of an illegal nature. Contempt of an order of court or ridiculing is common as there is a basic flaw in constitution that there is no executive power of the judiciary. Hence judiciary cannot get any order implemented except via executive. Judicial education and law department also needs investment. Take the example of Islamabad civil courts .There is no provision or a proper place for lawyers’ offices. Lawyers have set up offices illegally on lands worth billions of rupees in F8 markaz. Elsewhere in Punjab there are frequent incidences of judges being thrashed by lawyers’ groups. The problems that I have pointed out are just the tip of the iceberg. It is high time that the rot destroying the lower judiciary was stopped. An open debate with the citizens and readers is hereby challenged if they claim that things are improving in lower judiciary. They are in fact deteriorating.

M.SHAIKH,

Islamabad, June 3.