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Access to Justice Development Fund: Introductory remarks of Chief Justice of Pakistan

Islamabad, March 16, 2013 (PPI-OT): I welcome all of you in the meeting of Governing Body, Access to Justice Development Fund particularly to Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial and Mr. Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi who are attending meeting of this forum first time after their elevation as a Chief Justices of Lahore and Islamabad High Courts.

Rule of law plays an important role in the development of law abiding society. The legitimacy of any government depends on the fair and impartial administration of laws while the Courts being arbiter are entrusted with sacred task to uphold rule of law by evaluating the actions of Executives on the touch stone of the Constitution.

After restoration of 3rd November judiciary, the people’s confidence in judiciary has been increased for restoration of their rights and rule of law in the country. However, an under resourced judiciary cannot discharge its functions satisfactorily.

Establishment of Access to Justice Development Fund is an important step to support reforms in law and justice sector. Comparatively, it is a new and innovative concept in which financial resources for strengthening the judicial system are placed at the disposal of the judiciary. The principal amount is meant for investment to generate income to meet the purposes of the AJDF on a sustainable basis.

Primarily, the Fund’s objective is to strengthen the service delivery component of district judiciary and secondly to support initiatives for legal/ judicial education and protection of Human Rights through Legal Empowerment. Though the fund became functional couple of years ago but I feel pride to share with you that now most of its windows are fully operational.

Through Legal Empowerment Fund Window significant funding has been made to professional associations, research organizations and NGOs for legal empowerment vulnerable groups by providing legal aid and making the aware of their fundamental rights.

The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan has undertaken more than 48 projects worth Rs. 29 millions with various NGOs across the country for awareness and providing legal assistance to different segments of society whose fundamental rights are violated. This is a notable success and it is hoped that with the passage of time it will further improve the understanding of general public about their rights and enhance the credibility of formal justice system.

I feel pride to inform you that under PJDF window an amount of rupees 626.2 million have been allocated to Provincial High Courts for strengthening the infrastructure and capacity building of district Judiciary.

The fund released has been utilized in best way to improve the infrastructure of district Courts, automation of Courts and provisions of Court related conveniences and amenities to the litigants. I am pleased to know that through these fund spacious lockups and sheds have been constructed for prisoners and litigants and even electric generators are provided to the district Courts to tackle the problem of power outage/load shedding. These measures have improved the working of Courts and provided relief to litigants.

At this juncture I would like to say that the hard work of judges and independent and impartial dispensation of justice has changed the public perception about the judiciary resultantly more litigants are approaching courts for resolution of their disputes. In order to deal with the ever increasing litigation, we need more judges and staff for district judiciary.

In this regard, the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan and National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee has forwarded demands of High Courts to the Federal Government and to Prime Minister for allocation of funds for strengthening the district judiciary in terms of human resource and infrastructure. Unfortunately, despite lapse of considerable time and repeated references, the Government did not respond and failed to fulfill its Constitutional obligation to ensure inexpensive and speedy justice for all.

At the end I will say that the Access to Justice Development Fund is proved an important instrument for the improvement of the judicial system. The Fund is an institutionalized arrangement and has the potential to serve as an effective tool to address vulnerability and problems faced and disadvantaged groups through legal empowerment.

It is a matter of satisfaction that the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan has drawn a well-defined plan for utilizing these funds for the overall development of judiciary and legal empowerment in Pakistan. I will request the Honorable Chief Justices of the High Courts to personally monitor the administration of funds released under PJDF window and come up with suggestions to enhance its effectiveness. I hope this meeting will provide us an opportunity to evolve strategies to achieve its predetermined objectives.

For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001
Email: pro_scp@yahoo.com

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