LAHORE - Lahore High Court Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah Tuesday said that ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ system would be a game changer in the judicial system but strike culture must be ended to make it a success.

He expressed these views while addressing a ceremony about setting up Alternate Dispute Resolution centers in the province at Punjab Judicial Academy.

The chief Justice said that since September 1, 2016 to February 28, 2017, the provincial districts underwent a total of 1474 days of boycott and strike by the lawyers due to various reasons of protests.  The maximum 78 days strike was observed in district Sargodha during the last six months and it follows lawyers’ boycott of courts and strike of 72 days in district Jhang during the same period. In all 36 districts of Punjab, a total of 1474 days were observed as boycott of courts and protests by the legal fraternity, the chief justice said.

The chief justice said they had to work fast to keep the system functional and ADR would change the entire judicial system. However, he said ‘strike culture’ must be ended.

“ADR or any other modern system can’t work in the existence of strike culture,” the Chief Justice observed.

The chief Justice said that total 72 days were observed as boycott of courts in D G Khan, 70 days in Gujranwala and Mianwali, 69 days in Faisalabad, 66 days in Rajan pur, 61 days in Gujrat, 59 days in Khushab, 58 days in Chiniot, 57 days in Muzaffargarh, 52 days in TT Singh, 45 days in Pakpattan, 43 days in Okara and Multan each, 40 days in Hafizabad and Layyah each,  39 days in Sahiwal, 33 days in Rahim Yar Khan, 31 days in Bahawalnagar and Narowal each, 30 days in Chakwal, 29 days in Attock, 28 days were observed as strike in Khanewal, Sheikhupura, Bhakhar and Bahwalpur, 27 days in Mandi Bhauddin and Sialkot, 25 in Lodhran and 20 days in Jehlum, 20 days in Vehari and 15 days in Rawalpindi, 14 days in Lahore and 11 days in Kasur district were observed as strike days.  He said the strike call by Punjab Bar Council would only be accepted and on other strike calls the courts would continue their functioning.

The Chief Justice said that as action was  being taken against the judges of bad repute, similarly they expected the same action against the non-professional lawyers.

“We have to respect the courts beside keeping them functional,” CJ Shah stated.

Justice Muhammad Anwarul Haq, Justice Sardar Muhamamd Shamim Ahmad Khan, Justice Aminuddin Khan, Justice Shujaat Ali Khan, Justice Atir Mehmood, Justice Shahid Bilal Hassan, LHC Registrar Syed Khursheed Anwar Rizvi and other officials and senior lawyers were present there on the occasion.

The CJ said they were set to introduce reforms in the judicial system and international donors had also been supporting them. He said he was happy that leadership of the lawyers was with them and they all were agreed to change the system.  It was their collective responsibility to end the strike culture in the provincial judiciary, the chief justice said.

He further said that two judges had been nominated for ADR centers in each district and soon they would get their training at the Punjab Judicial Academy. Everywhere in the world, new system faced problems but they had to take it along and make it success. The chief justice said the judiciary academy was open for the lawyers as well. He asked the presidents of the LHCBA and LBA to come up with training programs for the training of the lawyers. After environment, it was the matter of thinking that made the difference between courts and mediation centers and they had to think openly to resolve the matters of the people.

The system had been established where the matters from the high court and lower courts would be referred but initially the matters of family and guardian courts were being sent to these centers, he said.

He also said ‘ADR Centre at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry’ was successfully working. He said he was hopeful that ADR system would help in resolving the matters of the public. He also stated that Modern Automation system and case management system would soon be established at the lower judiciary.

“We collectively have to make this system successful because alone I can’t do it,” the Chief Justice observed.

Earlier, Advocate Zafar Iqbal Kalanwari briefed the judges and lawyers about the ADR system. The representatives of the lawyers also addressed the ceremony and appreciated the judicial authority over introducing modern mediation system. They said they would fully support the system.