Islamabad, April 26, 2014 (PPI-OT): Today, a Meeting of the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee (NJPMC) was held in the Supreme Court Branch Registry, Lahore under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Chief Justice of Pakistan/Chairman, NJPMC. Introductory remarks of Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan are as under: –
“Hon’ble Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Hon’ble Chief Justice Federal Shariat Court
Hon’ble Chief Justices of the High Courts
Hon’ble Chief Judges of the Supreme Appellate Court and Chief Court of Gilgit – Baltistan,
I welcome you all to the meeting of National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee especially Mr. Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Chief Justice Peshawar High Court who is attending meeting of the NJPMC for the first time after his elevation as Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court I am confident that his association would be beneficial for the Committee and help us to improve the administration of justice in the country which is the mandate of this forum.
It’s a matter of great pleasure for me to meet you again just after International Judicial Conference, 2014 held last week. It was an important event in the judicial calendar of the country and you all have contributed to make it successful.
This year the participation of international delegates was overwhelming as compare to previous years which reflects the faith and trust of the judiciaries and jurists across the globe in our efforts to enforce the rule of law and constitutionalism in the country. This is good omen and will certainly enhance the prestige of our beloved country around the World.
The idea of holding Judicial Conferences was introduced by the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee in 2006 with the aim to provide an opportunity to the international and national luminaries in law to assemble and discuss issues of common concern and make recommendations for strengthening the justice system. Since then this event has become a regular annual feature.
This year the Conference focused its deliberations on important issues like judicial review of administrative actions; role of judiciary in protecting human rights; access to justice and role of judiciary to promote tolerance in the society.
The sessions were well attended and participants enthusiastically made recommendations for bringing visible changes in the administration of justice and creating an environment where rights and dignity of the people are honored and protected. Today, we are going to consider recommendations of the Conference for implementation to achieve the objective of the Conference.
All the issues on which deliberations were made during the conference are important but of particular relevance is the issue of “Role of Judiciary for the Promotion of a Culture of Tolerance”. I believe this issue is important not only because of the constitutional command reflected in Articles 20 and 22 and Principles of Policy but is also imperative in today’s world of globalized interdependence. We need to remember that today there are about 200 countries in the world and in great majority of the countries, Muslims are a minority.
If we want our Muslim brethren across the frontiers to have equal status, to have right to worship, we’ve got to extend similar protection to minorities in our country. While there are laws in the country to realize the constitutional commitments, it is necessary that the Government should consider bringing in more effective mechanism to enforce the laws. I propose that 2014 be declared as the year for promotion of religious tolerance in the country.
Recent advancement has enhanced the role of information technology in every walk of life and the judiciary is also getting benefits of this important tool for enhancing its efficiency. I am glad to share that the superior Judiciary has introduced information technology in its system to regulate case flow management, archiving of the court record, automation and digitization of Court libraries and administrative record, SMS alert to the Lawyers and electronic attendance system for the staff etc. Though these initiatives have increased the efficiency of the Courts but still we are lagging behind to achieve the optimum benefit of the technology.
I am of the considered view that unified integrated information system would foster access to important information about the case flow and improve the court efficiency by reducing time consuming paper base process. In addition, it will also help to maintain statistical data for evaluating the performance of Courts and devising future policies for improving the process of dispensation of justice.
Constitution of National Judicial Automation Committee (NJAC) is an important step towards realization of this dream. In this regard, the role of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan is praise worthy who is taking keen interest to provide a workable foundation for automation of Court system.
In today’s meeting, we will review the status of automation project of superior Judiciary including automation system being introduced by the Lahore High Court and would suggest way forward for its earlier implementation.
Now I will ask the Secretary to present the Agenda for formal proceedings of the meeting.”
The meeting was attended by Mr. Justice Agha Rafiq Ahmed Khan, Chief Justice, Federal Shariat Court, Mr. Justice Qazi Faez Isa, Chief Justice High Court of Balochistan, Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, Chief Justice Lahore High Court, Mr. Justice Maqbool Baqar, Chief Justice High Court of Sindh, and Mr. Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, Chief Justice Peshawar High Court. Besides, Mr. Justice Muhammad Anwar Khan Kasi, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court,
Mr. Justice Mohammad Azam Khan, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, Mr. Justice Rana Muhammad Arshad Khan, Chief Judge, Supreme Appellate Court Gilgit-Baltistan and Mr. Justice Sahib Khan, Chief Judge, Chief Court, Gilgit-Baltistan also attended the meeting.
The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan/ Chairman NJPMC observed that the recent advancement has enhanced the role of information technology in every walk of life. Though the Judiciary has introduced information technology in its system to regulate case flow management and court administration but are still lagging behind to achieve the optimum benefit of the technology. He stated that installation of unified integrated information system would foster access to information; improve the court efficiency by reducing time consuming paper base process.
The Committee considered the request of Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights for posting of judicial officers in the ministry on deputation in relaxation of National Judicial Policy. The Committee re-iterated that the posting of judicial officers against executive posts is against the principal of independence of judiciary.
However, keeping in view the difficulties of the Law Ministry/ Law Departments, the High Courts may allow judicial officers to join law department/ministry but in such case, the judicial officer shall shaver his relation with the judiciary.
The Committee also considered the rules framed by High Court of Sindh to regulate the Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) proceedings. The Hon’ble Chief Justice of Pakistan/ Chairman NJPMC took exception of the situation and observed that since it has been more than ten years that section 89-A was introduced in the Civil Procedure Code (CPC) for early resolution of disputes by resorting to ADR techniques but regrettably rules have not been framed to trickle down the benefits of said provision.
After deliberations, a committee has been constituted under the Chairmanship of Hon’ble Mr. Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, Judge Supreme Court of Pakistan comprising a Judge from each High Court to propose uniform rules to give effect to section 89-A of the CPC.
The Committee also considered the recommendations of International Judicial Conference 2014. The Hon’ble Chief Justice/ Chairman NJPMC appreciated the role of members of the Committee to make it successful.
He stated that overwhelming participation of international and national delegates reflect that the Judiciary is gaining attention due to upholding the rule of law and constitutionalism in the country which is good omen and would certainly enhance the prestige of our country.
The Committee observed that the recommendations made by the working groups are worth considering and if implemented would improve the administration of justice and pave way for promoting tolerance and rule of law in the society. After deliberation, the Committee approved the same for implementation.
During discussion, the Chief Justice of Pakistan took serious note of delay in construction of District Courts and Model Jail for Islamabad and observed that the recent suicide attack on District Court, Islamabad wherein precious lives of litigants, lawyers and judicial officer were lost, has prompted the early completion of said projects to provide safe and peaceful environment to the litigants to pursue their cases before Courts. The Chief Justice of Pakistan constituted a committee comprising an Hon’ble Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and a Judge of the Islamabad High Court to oversee the projects for their early completion.
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