LAHORE - Under the guidance of Chief Justice Sayed Zahid Hussain, the Lahore High Court has witnessed a substantial improvement both on judicial and administrative side during the first quarter of the year instant. Justice Zahid Hussain took over as CJ on January 1st last when lawyers' movement was at its peak. The movement had made access of the people to the courts difficult and law and order situation had also become serious especially after GPO chowk suicide attack on January 9. Acting differently, the CJ pursued reconciliation policy with the lawyers to let the litigants have access to the courts while in the informal meetings with his brother judges, he framed a comprehensive plan to improve working conditions of the judicial system in association with the legal fraternity. The report issued by the LHC, on the first quarter of 2008, shows a number of steps Justice Zahid Hussain took for improvement and provision of justice not only in courts but also during the elections. For the facility of lawyers and litigants, Turner Road Gate was reopened on the order of CJ, as he believed that such measures amounted to close the doors for justice. By not showing any slackness to security of the LHC premises, the CJ ordered for adopting foolproof arrangements at the entry and exit points through installing walkthrough gates and circuit cameras, however, keeping in mind the need of uninterrupted traffic flow in the premises. In security arrangements, the CJ kept a close liaison with the bar so that community did not face any undue problems. Addressing an acute and chronic problem of traffic mess, the CJ ordered construction of a spacious new parking lot in the LHC premises connecting Cornelius Chowk through a 30-feet wide road. With coordinated efforts between the bar and the bench under his stewardship, dispensation of justice and reduction in suffering of litigants was ensured. The CJ also took steps to address financial constrains of judicial officers and employees and awarded one-step up-gradation to all of them. Taking a historic step, the CJ promoted all Add D&SJs from BS-19 to BS-20, Sr civil judges from Bs-18 to BS-19, and civil judges from BS-17 to BS-18. The post of LHC Registrar was also upgraded from BS-21 to BS-22 while two additional sessions judges were made sessions judges. It was in addition to the transport allowance provided by the Punjab government to judicial officers in ratio of Rs 7,000 per month, Rs 6,000 per month for Sr civil judges and Rs 5,000 per month for civil judges. On the intervention of the CJ, the Government made further 10 per cent increase, over the previous 20 per cent of the basic salary, in the judicial allowance of the officers and employees of the LHC. Besides, officers of the lower judiciary were given 10 per cent of their pay as special allowance. Justice Zahid believes that the increase in allowances is a right of judicial officers but strictly wants to justify this through improvement in the administration of justice. He strongly believes that to do justice is a divine act and judges exalted offices are specially chosen for the purpose, so they have to do justice not for any worldly benefit but only to please the Creator, Allah Almighty. He wanted the officers to do justice on the basis of 'Taqva; and the Islamic ideal of 'Adal,wa, Ishan' while taking their responsibility as a trust to them. The CJ also took a serious note of the corrupt and the officers who were neglecting their duties and sent them a strict warning to mend their way or they shall be taken to task and thrown out of the office. He harboured a special place for clean, honest and diligent judges in his heart and committed to reward them duly. During meeting with the officers of LHC, the CJ always stressed the need to serve the people sincerely and be helpful in lowering their worries. He says the judges have to do justice, one of the great virtues of Allah Almighty. So they must recognize their status and dignity and do justice without fear or favour. In order to enforce discipline, he appealed to the people to identify the corrupt elements in the judiciary so that criminal proceedings is also initiated against them. For this purpose, he also established a Cell at his Secretariat to receive public complaints and suggestions on the improvement of the system. A better output of the Cell has also encouraged the people to move complaints against the judicial officers before the Member Inspection Team (MIT) Branch. During the first quarters in office, the LHC with the active cooperation of lawyers disposed of as many as 15000 cases. During this period special Benches were also formed for disposal of anti-terrorism, NAB, Commercial and condemned prisoners cases on a priority basis. Matters relating to juvenile prisoners, women as well as family and rent suits were also redressed on war footings, which, first time in the judicial history, brought the backlog of family cases down to half and pendency in the appellant courts to one-thirds. From January 1, 2008 to March 31, 2008, a total of 65,000 family cases and 3,700 family appeals were adjudicated. In the sessions courts of the Punjab and Islamabad a bulk of 99,000 cases while 2,660,00 civil and criminal cases were decided during this quarter in addition to disposing of 87,000 sessions and 242000 civil and criminal cases. Subordinate courts in the Punjab showed a remarkable performance and a marked decrease in the backlog of cases was witnessed. The Administration Committee during the same period brought under review as many as 6,900 administrative matters. With the commitment to set the Institution of justice on right track, first time in the judicial history the CJ paid a surprise visit incognito without any protocol or prior information to civil/family courts at Lahore and got the first hand knowledge of the performance of judicial officers as well as difficulties being faced by lawyers and general public. On the occasion, the judicial officers performing their duties dedicatedly were appreciated while disciplinary proceedings were initiated against delinquent ones in addition to a number of directions were passed for providing better facilities inside and outside the courtrooms. The CJ finding space crunch in the courts, also decided to acquire more land. A 55-Kanal tract of land has been selected at Sangheetpura, Cantt. Another 20 Kanals situated at Nishtar Colony, Ferozepur Road, Lahore, has been pinpointed. These pieces of land are suitable for use by the judiciary.  Besides that, 24 construction schemes relating to court rooms and residences of judicial officers, were completed during the period. During the election, the CJ chalked out an impartial strategy for impartial, fair and neutral discharge of services by the Judicial Officers. He called a meeting of all the sessions judges appointed as returning officers and guided them on making the elections free, fair, impartial and without showing any political affiliation. He himself closely monitored working of the officers discharging election duties. Before election CJ sought a report on the security measures at polling stations and asked him to beef up the arrangements. On polling day, he himself visited the Polling stations and quizzed the staff and polling agents about polling arrangements, which they termed satisfactory. On CJ's directions concrete steps are also being taken for the establishment of a judicial academy in the Province. Chief Justice House in GOR-I, Lahore, a splendid building of Mughal era, is being renovated to preserve its aesthetic beauty as a cultural heritage. A new Rest House at 26-Aikman Road, GOR-l, Lahore is being set up to cope with the increasing requirements of the serving and retired judges.