ISLAMABAD - The participants of the two-day national conference on implementation of National Judicial Policy Sunday adopted 'Islamabad Declaration which stressed that competence and integrity should be the foremost criteria for appointment of judges and that all the vacant posts of judges should be filled in on priority basis to achieve the goals set in the NJP. The unanimously adopted declaration further stressed that judicial officers and courts staff should be offered competitive salaries and innovative training modules should be developed and implemented for their capacity building. The declaration also emphasised upon the need of implementing Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism to lower the burden of pending cases before the courts. It also called upon judges and lawyers to be punctual to avoid delays and unnecessary adjournments. Both lawyers and judges should keep a close vigil over their support staff to avoid them from indulging in corruption. Public perceptions about the courts and katcheries needed to be changed through efficient performance and corruption-free environment, the declaration stressed. The declaration also stressed the need for an integrated strategy for closer cooperation on a sustainable basis amongst the judiciary, bar and ancillary justice sector institutions to meet the goals of the NJP. It encountered the shortage of manpower, loadshedding and the scattered locations of courts and tribunals as the major difficulties in implementation of the NJP. The declaration urged the government to allocate adequate funds to strengthen the capacity of subordinate courts to handle the caseload within the time frame fixed by the NJP. Earlier, the participants were divided into four groups to discuss the issues like the backlog, delay reduction, role of superior judiciary in implementation of the NJP and eradication of corruption from the judiciary. The groups discussed their respective topics at length and drew conclusions and recommendations, which were later presented in the concluding session, presided over by the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. Based on the recommendations of each group, the participants of the conference drafted the declaration, which was unanimously adopted. Prior to the adoption of the declaration, the Chief Justice delivered his concluding speech and said that the events occurred during the past two years suggested that a fair and effective system of justice was the utmost priority of the people of the country. The nation has sent us a message that we cant choose to ignore, he said. The Chief Justice said, Let the people know that we are committed to the aspirations of the people and want to tell those people who resort to violent means to resolve their disputes that we are dedicated to improve the justice system up to the satisfaction of the nation. The National Judicial Policy is the first step in that direction, he added. He said that both the criminal and civil justice systems of the country suffered from unacceptable delays, mismanagement and varying degrees of corruption. He said all the stakeholders should accept their responsibility in that regard, adding he was glad to see that they were committed to eradicate those problems through effective implementation of the NJP. The Chief Justice called for cooperation from the law enforcing agencies, as, he said, it was needed for eradication of the present ills and achievement of the future strategic goals. The recommendations forwarded by the discussion groups included increase in salary of judicial officials at par with the Punjab, making changes in Police Order-2002, simplification of Criminal and Civil Procedural Codes and avoiding the cross-examination of evidences for clearing the backlog and reducing delays. Changes in syllabi of law colleges and judicial academies, up-to-date refresher courses for judicial officers, formation of commissions for recording evidences, appointment of ad hoc judges to fill the vacant posts were also urged. Judges of the sub-ordinate judiciary were urged to fix reasonable number of cases in their courts so that no person called in the court might go out unheard and unnoticed. The discussion group under the chair of General Secretary Supreme Court Bar Association Shaukat Umar Pirzada also stressed in its recommendations that the superior judiciary should be purged of the PCO judges, who, he said, were incompetent and corrupt. APP adds: The CJP also mentioned July 5 saying that the day marked a sad event in the nations constitutional history. This day, thirty-two years ago, the countrys fundamental law, namely the Constitution, was suspended and the democratic process thwarted.