ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad High Court on Monday directed the federal government to take steps on urgent basis for shifting the district courts to the ‘purposed-built complex’.

A single bench of the IHC comprising Chief Justice IHC Justice Athar Minallah issued these directions in a 5-page order in a petition moved against the deplorable condition of District Courts, Islamabad.

The IHC bench also directed the chief commissioner, Islamabad Capital Territory, in consultation with the IHC Registrar, to formulate proposals for establishing district courts in a purpose-built complex and forward the same to the federal government within two weeks.

It added that the Special Secretary Ministry of Interior, Aamir Ahmed, as focal person for the federal government will ensure that the proposals are processed and placed before the federal cabinet, preferably within two weeks.

According to the court order, the Inspector General of Islamabad Police and the Deputy Commissioner Islamabad will take appropriate measures for ensuring security of the District Court. They will submit the report by 12th March.

It also said that the Registrar of IHC is directed to send copies of this order to the concerned officials through special messenger.

It stated that the officers in the last hearing had informed the IHC about the shockingly and deplorable and lamentable state of affairs at District Courts of Islamabad saying that the same is in their knowledge and that they are in the process of bringing this issue involving immense public importance to the notice of the federal cabinet.

The chief commissioner informed that the area had been surveyed and that a report highlighting action required to be taken will be submitted before the next date of hearing.

The IGP, Islamabad told that a detailed report regarding security situation has already been submitted.

The IHC noted that the deplorable condition prevailing at the District Courts, affecting the fundamental rights of the people is acknowledged and the prevailing conditions speak volumes for the apathy of successive governments since 1980 towards the most important tier of our judicial system.

It definitely manifests that hitherto, the State through its functionaries, appears to have given lowest priority to the inviolable fundamental right of access to justice.

The bench noted that appalling working environment and conditions in the District Courts is beyond comprehension and it cannot be described in words.

It is noted that the litigants and the victims of crime are indeed the actual stakeholders of the justice system and they are the ones who are suffering the most.

The system does not appear to serve them by acknowledging that they are the actual stakeholders. Most of the citizens who seek justice and dispute resolution in the District Courts do not belong to the privileged classes of the society.

The embarrassingly deplorable condition in the District Courts is a classic example of denial of the fundamental rights of access to justice to its actual stakeholders and undermining of the rule of law.

Simultaneously, it manifests failure of the State in fulfilling its obligations under Article 37 of Constitution to ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice. In the past, the District Courts have been a target of terrorist attacks in which innocent citizens including lawyers and a judge have lost their lives.

The Courts are established in privately owned building in a commercial area since three decades. What be more ironic than that the landlords of these rented buildings filing eviction petitions in the same courts.

Not only that the petitions were allowed, execution proceedings are pending in the courts for its own eviction. The travesty and perversion of the rule of law could have been avoided in the federal capital if the State through its functionaries had acknowledged the importance of district judiciary and the fundamental rights to access to justice and security of life.