Islamabad, April 21, 2013 (PPI-OT):
My brother Judges of the Supreme Court;
Hon’ble Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir;
Hon’ble Chief Justices and Judges of the Provincial High Courts, Islamabad High Court, and High Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir;
Hon’ble Chief Justices and Judges as well as jurists for foreign countries;
Hon’ble Chief Judge, Gilgit-Baltistan;
Learned Members of District Judiciary;
Learned Advocates General of the Provinces and Federal and Provincial Law Officers;
Worthy Vice Chairmen and Office Bearers of Pakistan Bar Council and Provincial Bar Councils;
Worthy President and Office Bearers of the Supreme Court Bar Association;
Worthy Presidents of High Courts and District Bar Associations;
Members of the Bar;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am extremely delighted to see my learned colleagues, foreign dignitaries, members of the bar, public functionaries, academicians, members of the civil society and media for having assembled here once again after yesterday’s long working sessions of the Conference. Coming from around the world, we have gathered here for a cause. It is to serve justice.
This historical occasion will go a long way in promoting legal and judicial reforms. I am overwhelmed by your active participation in this three-day International Judicial Conference, 2013 and for making it a memorable event.
It was really an honor for our country, for the Supreme Court of Pakistan, for the Law and Justice Commission and for me personally, being the head of two institutions to organize this Conference and to receive and welcome our distinguished guests, particularly, our international delegates who have taken time out from their busy schedules and have traveled from different parts of the world.
The basic idea of organizing this Conference was to involve all the stakeholders in the dispensation of justice to share their experiences, knowledge and perceptions on critical issues being faced by the justice system. I am keenly looking forward to the recommendations of each of the Working Group, which will be placed before the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee for follow up action, which I am sure, would certainly contribute to further improve the judicial administration of the country.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
There were nine thematic groups with different topics; each topic is well connected with the basic theme of Conference i.e. “NO VIRTUE IS GREATER THAN JUSTICE”. Justice is a master virtue, which brings harmony and peace amongst individuals as well as nations. An independent judiciary plays a pivotal role in eradicating tyranny and oppression, and establishing a just and fair social order in society, which is essential for growth, development and prosperity.
It guides us to live a happy and contented life based on principles of equality and fairness. Undoubtedly, judiciary has a primary role in promoting rule of law and all authorities and institutions have to render auxiliary support and cooperation in the administration of justice and execution of the judicial process.
The Executive and Legislature share equal responsibility to achieve the object of independence of judiciary. If such an environment is created where all three organs perform their functions while remaining within their prescribed spheres, it would provide a stable and predictable environment, facilitating the judiciary to enforce the fundamental rights of the citizens, guaranteed under the Constitution.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
In a civilized society the importance of independence of judiciary is understood and valued. However, it is not the ultimate milestone to be crossed or the final target to be achieved in one go. It is an ongoing effort in which different targets are to be set and achieved, different stages are to be crossed and different levels are to be attained, till we achieve the ultimate objective of independence and impartiality of judiciary.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I feel privileged that the Pakistani judicial system is the strongest backer of democracy which enjoys full confidence and faith of legal fraternity, other institutions as well as public at large. In recent years, the judiciary as the third pillar of State has successfully emerged as a savior and a protector of constitutional supremacy and fundamental rights.
Judicial activism on the part of the apex Court has not only strengthened the judicial system as a whole, but has also enhanced public trust and confidence in the formal justice system. Adherence to the constitutional norms of equality before law and equal protection of law by the apex Court in all its verdicts has curtailed the arbitrary actions and excesses of the State institutions and private individuals; and has also curbed the social evils of corruption, kidnapping, abduction, forced disappearances, target killings, terrorism and violation of human rights to a great extent. However, complete solution to these social evils is not possible without the active participation and coordination of all the stakeholders in the discharge of constitutional duties of maintaining peace and establishing rule of law. These social evils need to be uprooted through a collaborative and conjunctive effort before they completely erode the social fabric.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Judiciary in Pakistan is fully cognizant of the ever rising hopes of our people in the judicial institution and let me assure you that we are working to uphold the rule of law. We strongly believe that the judiciary must not take on the color of whatever may be popular at the moment rather we are guardian of rights, and we have to tell people things they often do not like to hear. With increased support of stakeholders and confidence of people, the independence of judiciary would be further strengthened.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Now I will read out the Islamabad Declaration 2013 of the International Judicial Conference 2013: –
Group 1: “Role of Judiciary in the Developing World” hereby declares:
(A) That societies progress on the basis of strong and long-lasting institutions and not individuals, it is recommended that the judiciary needs to be strengthened as an institution rather than placing a wholehearted reliance upon the strength of a few individuals.
(B) It is further recommended that a clearly defined and structured exercise of suo motu jurisdiction needs to be evolved.
(C) It is proposed that the judicial system needs to be reformed in such a way that majority of the cases are decided in district courts without prospects of endless appeals.
(D) It is also proposed that confidence of litigants in the judicial system is restored.
(E) It is declared that the judiciary should play an active part in enforcing rule of law which is pivotal in the developing world to counter corruption, infringement of fundamental rights and excesses of state functionaries.
(F) It is declared that specialized judicial education should be imparted whereby judicial officers are trained in technological advancements. The view that a legally empowered vibrant civil society conscious of its rights can improve living conditions of the poor is endorsed, hence, renewed efforts are required to inform and educate people on their rights, which they can enforce through courts of law.
(G) It is highly recommended that the judiciary as a whole should embrace technological advancements and move towards computerization of the entire system so that the mischief’s emanating from the current manual system may be suppressed.
(H) Finally, it is recommended that the judiciaries of the developing world must assert themselves vigorously so that constitutional schemes and intents are properly implemented for the betterment of the populations at large.
Group 2: “The Rule of Law and International Peace” hereby declares:
(A) That the recognized international principles of rule of law should be implemented in true letter and spirit. Mechanisms should be evolved for dispute resolution amongst the states in a manner which promotes peace.
(B) Furthermore, it should be ensured that all states respect, secure and protect human rights irrespective of religion, ethnicity or nationality.
(C) Moreover, the Government of Pakistan should initiate and take appropriate steps for revamping and updating of international rules for upholding peace in the international community, particularly, international rules should be devised to regulate and govern robotic and cyber warfare without encroaching upon the sovereignty of states.
(D) Lastly, it is important to strengthen cooperation amongst states at the regional and international levels, while dealing with international crimes.
Group 3: “Terrorism and Money Laundering” hereby declares:
That the threat of Terrorism and Money Laundering transcends national boundaries of civilized nations and affects the very fabric of any society. Terrorism and Money Laundering by their very nature undermine the rule of law; a principle that is cardinal for any society to realize its full potential while ensuring justice everywhere. Pakistan is no exception to the menace of Terrorism and Money Laundering. In fact, it has incurred a heavy cost, both in terms of life and property, while fulfilling its international obligations to counter terrorism being a responsible member of the comity of nations.
However, specific legal steps need to be taken to address several areas of concerns, such as, strengthening of anti-terrorism laws, capacity building of stakeholders responsible for prosecuting these offences, mutual legal assistance with various countries for effective prosecution of trans-national organized crimes, witness protection, collection of evidence and investigation, etc. It is underlined that the war against terrorism as was commenced in the aftermath of various United Nations Security Council resolutions has now become a fight for our national security and integrity, and the very survival of the state and people of Pakistan.
Group 4: “Public Interest Litigation: a Tool to Protect Fundamental Rights” hereby declares:
(A) That public interest litigation should be recognized as a valid and powerful tool of legal empowerment for the underprivileged sections of society.
(B) Awareness needs to be raised amongst the general public about remedies which have become available to them on account of recent developments in this field of law.
(C) Public interest litigation should be dealt with in a manner which also affirms the role of other judicial forums.
(D) The Supreme Court’s jurisprudence on Article 184(3) of the Constitution be systematically analyzed and crystallized on an ongoing basis.
(E) Lastly, it is emphasized that further empirical research needs to be conducted on public interest litigation in Pakistan in order to make popular discourse more informed.
Group 5: “Role of Judiciary in Consumer Protection” hereby declares:
(A) That for the effective protection of consumer rights, equally comprehensive legislation should be enacted across all the provinces with the establishment of Consumer Protection Councils and Consumer Courts thereunder and the enactment of required rules and regulations without further delay.
(B) To improve access to justice, Courts should be established at the sub-division level with straightforward procedure under the consumer protection laws that encourage consumers to approach the court and remove deficiencies in the statutes for recording of evidence and execution of decrees.
(C) Disparities between different legislation should be removed and the jurisdiction of Consumer Courts enhanced for greater efficacy.
Group 6: “Legal and Judicial Education” declares:
(A) That the judgment passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of Pakistan in Pakistan Bar Council v. Federal Government (PLD 2007 Supreme Court 394) must be implemented in letter and spirit by the Universities and Colleges of Law, all across Pakistan.
(B) There needs to be an integrated legal education system following a uniform curriculum, including optional modules with respect to developing areas of law.
(C) The Federal and Provincial Governments should allocate greater resources to the Universities. Judicial academies should prioritize research and publication and undertake Training Needs Assessment (TNA) to ensure effective capacity building of future judges for better dispensation of justice in the future.
Group 7: “Alternate Dispute Resolution” hereby declares:
(A) That the Bench, the Bar and other stakeholders need training on ADR. For this purpose, training programs should be devised by the Bar Councils in collaboration with the Law and Justice Commission, and the Pakistan Bar Council should introduce a course on ADR in the LL.B degree program.
(B) An official institute of arbitrators be established so that persons from fields relevant to the matter in dispute are readily available.
(C) The “Lok Adalat” system as introduced and developed in India should be examined to see how it can be used for our mutual benefit and the ADR mechanisms already available in the Law should be highlighted and fully enforced.
Group 8: “Parental Child Abduction and Transnational Jurisdiction” hereby declares:
(A) That in view of the significance of the issue of Parental Child Abduction as well as the sensitivity and compassion required when dealing with such cases a range of social, moral and psychological issues must be considered in addition to legal concerns.
(B) In order to prevent parental child abduction final judgments of Family Courts relatable to wrongful transnational movement of children should be enforced by Immigration Agencies.
(C) Furthermore, concerned parties should be made aware about the available pro bono and legal aid options within and outside Pakistan to provide relief to aggrieved persons.
(D) It is pertinent that legal luminaries, jurists, and other specialists strive to resolve conflict of international laws pertaining to transnational child abduction and reach a formal consensus as to the “best interests” of the child among the various jurisdictions.
(E) Moreover, it is necessary to carry out a pre-ratification consideration of all aspects of the Hague Convention and possible reservations to ratification, as well as ensuring wide circulation of the Pakistan-UK Protocol on Children Matters.
(F) It is recommended that the achievements of the Malta Process and the working party on mediation in family law be extended full support and domestically specialist judges be appointed in family courts to deal with such matters.
(G) Lastly, the recommendations put forth during the International Judicial Conference 2012 being in line with the UN Convention on Rights of Child should be prioritized and implemented promptly.
Group 9: “Cyber Crimes” hereby declares:
(A) That stakeholder draft of the cyber crime bill before the national assembly be immediately enacted and promulgated into law.
(B) The government should urgently seek accession to Multilateral Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties including the convention on cyber crime to effectively combat cyber crime.
(C) The FIA’s NR3C should be institutionalized on a permanent basis and should only include qualified personnel with respect to investigation as well as prosecution of cyber crime.
(D) Abuse of cyber crime laws by combining them with telecom offences and a disproportionate focus on telecom as opposed to true cyber crime which harms the public should cease.
(E) Capacity must be built in order to enable collection of digital evidence. Collection should be on-site as opposed to physical seizure and removal of equipment that negatively impacts rights of other users and continuity of legitimate business.
(F) Fundamental Rights need to be specially protected in light of the new and unique powers available to investigation agencies at all times ensuring independent judicial supervision.
In the end, I would like to thank all the participants from home and abroad – the Hon’ble Judges of the Supreme Court, the High Courts and the District Judiciary, jurists, senior advocates, academia and young lawyers for taking time out to travel from every nook and corner of the country and attending the conference. I appreciate your enthusiasm, commitment and dedication that you have shown for the cause of legal profession and the justice system.
My first and foremost appreciation and thanks are due to the Organizing Committee comprising Mr. Justice Tassadduq Hussain Jillani, the Senior Puisne Judge and other senior Judges of the Supreme Court, namely, Mr. Justice Nasir-ul-Mulk, Mr. Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Mr. Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, who provided the much needed guidance and played the leading role in successfully organizing this conference. I also appreciate the dedication and commitment of Mr. Habib-ur-Rehman Sheikh, Secretary, Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan and other staff members, Dr. Faqir Hussain, Registrar, Supreme Court of Pakistan and other staff members, law clerks, rapporteurs, volunteers, law students and internees, who worked day and night to make this mega event successful. I extend my heartiest congratulations to all of them. I am sure they will be making similar contribution in future with a view to strengthening the system of administration of justice in the country.
I thank the learned Chief Justices and Judges of the Lahore High Court, Lahore and Sindh High Court, Karachi along with their team members for hosting dinner and lunch in honour of the participants of the Conference.
Our applaud is due for the little angels from Bloomfield Hall School who played the song ‘Justice For All’ to the great pleasure of the audience. I was so delighted to see their blooming faces and I wish them all success in their future life. Their presence really made the event colourful.
Let us pray to Allah Almighty to enable the Judiciary of Pakistan to administer justice to all manner of people in accordance with the Constitution and the law and without any discrimination across the board.
I wish all of you a safe and pleasant journey back home and sweet memories of your visit to, and stay in, the capital of Pakistan.
For more information, contact:
Shahid Hussain Kamboyo
Public Relations Officer
Supreme Court of Pakistan
Tel: +9251 920 4184
Fax: +9251 920 1001