Speaking at the inaugural session of the National Judicial (Policymaking) Committee (NJC) held at Balochistan High Court conference room at Quetta on Saturday, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry said that “solution to all public problems” rested with the rule of law. Elaborating the point, he said that it resulted in good governance, created economic opportunities and paved the way for stability in society. It also facilitated the judiciary to dispense expeditious and inexpensive justice. Justice Chaudhry stressed upon the government, therefore, to implement, at the earliest, NJC’s proposals, whose main focus was on creating conditions for the rule of law to prevail. He also remarked that an independent and strong system of administration also provided good governance to society. The Chief Justice claimed that the fruits of the judicial policy, which the judiciary had adopted, were becoming visible and there was a lesser backlog of cases pending with the courts, though the efforts to provide easy justice at the doorstep was encouraging people to file a greater number of cases.

There is little doubt that the people balk at the very idea of approaching a court of law for redress of a grievance because of the numerous ills that stalk the system, particularly at the level of lower courts. For instance, it is hard to move a step without greasing the palm of some court official; there are endless deferment of cases for one reason or the other; the investigating process is so defective and is so marked with corrupt practices that the evidence produced before the judges has, more often than not, too many loopholes for them to punish the guilty and the influential and powerful culprit is let off the hook. It is not so uncommon for the civil suits to drag on for years, if not for generations. The ordinary citizen with fewer resources would, therefore, rather prefer suffering injustice with all its painful consequences to going through the travails of pursuing the case.

Thus, there is a dire need to effect such reforms in the legal system as could eliminate these evils. Chief Justice Chaudhry has been assuring that the situation is getting better, but  the improvement has not been felt at the public level in a manner that it could have changed the general perception about the working of the courts. Nevertheless, it is a happy sign that persistent efforts are at least being made to improve the system. The Chief Justice also spoke about the miserable conditions prevailing in the jails; he remarked that steps were being taken to ensure that a suitable environment that enabled the prisoners to reintegrate themselves in society after coming out of the jail was created and session judges were periodically visiting the jails for this purpose. Whether in his term we will reap the fruits of the persistent efforts he was lauding, remains to be seen.