ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali yesterday said a state that fails to provide justice cannot sustain, insisting that all institutions have to play their due role in ensuring cheap and speedy justice to the masses. The SC chief justice expressed these views while addressing the upper house of the parliament on the invitation of Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani who wanted him to inform the lawmakers of what should be done to provide cheap and speedy justice to the people. He was given a standing ovation for being the first chief justice to show up at the parliament house and speak to the parliamentarians directly.

Though the chief justice underlined the importance of parliament in making legislation, he said judiciary has to intervene when rights are denied or violated. He said implementation is primarily an executive function, but it becomes a matter of judicial consideration when rights are denied and at this point the judiciary is compelled to order organisational reforms.

“It is more appropriate that governments lead this effort, but due to the often grave consequences of poor implementation and weak administration, the courts have been compelled to delve into organisational matters,” he said. He revealed 80 percent of disputes in the country are resolved by unregulated informal justice sector such as Jirgas and Punchayats while the state justice sector caters for only 20 percent of the disputes.

“This may be interpreted as evidence of massive legal exclusion—the widening of an increasing distance between state and society/citizens,” the Supreme Court chief justice said.

“To ensure social cohesion, we need to proactively ensure that justice and security protection reaches out to the poor and most vulnerable. Our approach must be output-based focusing on impact,” he maintained. He said: “We all need to make a greater effort to strengthen constitutionalism in state and society, to raise public awareness about the promise of Pakistan and the basic transformative elements of the constitution that define the relationship between state and society.

“We will partner with the relevant authorities to realise our national commitments on Sustainable Development Goals and the Vision 2025. I am, therefore, directing the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan to directly engage with the relevant stakeholders and, as chairman of the commission, I shall personally maintain a watch on progress,” he said, adding this is his commitment to the national cause. The chief justice said the country had abundance of laws, but there existed a crisis of implementation that must be addressed as a matter of priority. “There is little point in having fine laws when the organisations responsible for implementation are essentially dysfunctional.”

He said lack of administrative and technical capacities, lack of functional specialisation, misallocation of scarce resources and maladministration, including corruption and criminality, undermine the quality of justice services and constitutional fabric and values. “There is no evaluation and monitoring of what we are delivering and there is no determination of justice needs and levels of satisfaction,” Justice Jamali told the Senate Whole Committee.

Addressing the parliamentarians, the chief justice said it is primary responsibility of the chosen representatives of the people to ensure that the constitutional mandate was effectively implemented and citizens’ lives and interests protected and promoted effectively in line with public welfare and common good. “This brings me to talk about the need to strengthen oversight to ensure that the constitution and the rule of law are effectively enforced,” he averred. He added: “At this critical juncture in our society, there is a need to critically and honestly reflect on how the stability and effectiveness of state and society are challenged and compromised and how they can be strengthened.”

“We need to heed the lessons set out by the likes of Daren Acemoglu and James A Robinson who highlighted the role of institutions, including the rule of law, in their aptly titled, “Why Nations Fail: The Origin of Power, Prosperity and Poverty,” he added. The chief justice also said increase in population and lack of education in rural areas of the country is one of the reasons behind law and order situation in the country, which needed to be addressed.

Earlier, in his speech, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani thanked the chief justice of Pakistan for making a historic visit to the parliament house. He added the address of Justice Jamali would help the lawmakers understand the importance of strengthening national institutions. Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq extended his vote of thanks and said a society ruled by infidels can survive but a state will collapse if there is no justice for masses.