KARACHI Legal experts have expressed serious concern over the prevalence of corruption in the judiciary, and said that corruption is the major hurdle in proper implementation of the National Judiciary Policy (NJP) to rid the judiciary of corruption. Talking to TheNation, law experts said that there are a number of factors, including corruption, creating obstacles in the way of the NJP promulgated by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. The situation is not only depriving the people of speedy justice but also impeding improvements in the judiciary. The CJP has already vowed to rid the judiciary of corruption, while announcing the NJP after restoration of the independent judiciary with two-year struggle. There are a number of difficulties causing hurdles providing relief to the people in the lower courts such as corruption, low salaries, inadequate resources, heavy workloads, and intimidation by political and religious pressure groups, said Advocate Zia Ahmed Awan, member of Pakistan Bar Council. He added that such longstanding issues contributed to judicial inefficiency, particularly in the lower courts. He said that due to shortage of judges, the heavy backlog of cases, lengthy court procedures and political pressures, cases routinely take years and defendants must make frequent court appearances. Zia, also a human rights activist, said that despite facing several difficulties the performance of the judiciary has improved enough as compared to the past. He said the current judiciary has taken several remarkable steps as it has never been done in the past. Since last, no government had taken any initiative to develop the judiciary by providing sufficient funds and required resources and facilities. He, however, admitted that there was corruption in lower courts that he considered a big hurdle in achieving the goal of the NJP. Apart from the CJP, the chief justices of all High Courts, lawyers bars and other stakeholders should also play their role to ensure implementing the NJP and provide relief to the people. He said that the judicial process continued to be impeded by bureaucratic infighting, inactivity, and the overlapping jurisdictions of the different court systems. Heavy backlogs that severely delayed the application of justice remained, due to scores of unfilled judgeships and to archaic and inefficient court procedures. It has been observed in the past that politicised appointment process held up the promotion of many lower court judges to the High Courts. Although the higher level judiciary was considered competent and generally honest, there were widespread reports of corruption among lower level magistrates and minor court functionaries, he said. He said: There is a dire need to initiate full implementation of the NJP, release required funds, appoint more judges and increase the number of district courts. Haider Imam Rizvi, Secretary Karachi Bar Association, said that there was no much improvement in the lower courts. After the independent of the judiciary, the people have a lot of expectations, but the existing problems of corruption and delay of court proceedings have been big hurdles. He said that the NJP was constituted to eradicate the unnecessary delay in legal proceedings and ensure speedy trial, but it has not proved effectively yet. Beside, delaying tactics by the police submitting challans was another big cause decelerating court proceedings. The KBA Secretary held judges, lawyers, court staffers and police responsible for promoting corruption. He did not agree that corruption was being committed with the knowledge of the judges. The total strength of the staffers across the province was eight thousands including technical and non-technical, but their wagers were very low as compared to other provinces that was one of the main reasons behind corruption. Being from a lawyers representative body, we are strictly taking actions on complaints against the lawyers if involved in corruption, but the complaint should be based on facts, instead of hearsay, and if found correct action would be taken, he said, adding that so far no disciplinary action has been taken against any lower court judge despite the fact that a number of complaints have been launched with Member of Inspection Team (MIT) established by the Sindh High Court. He also claimed that there was not a single complaint entertained by MIT. The KBA demanded making the MIT effective and said it should be bound to entertain the complaints against any judge. Similarly, Abdul Samad Baloch, Secretary Peoples Lawyers Forum (PLF), also termed a few corrupt judges as responsible to promote and encourage corruption in the lower courts, saying that there were few black sheep in the five districts, but there was no effective body to take disciplinary action against them, as several complaints have been pending. Quoting few cases, he said that a few judges were involved in corruption indirectly. I do not believe that the judges are not aware of corruption in the courtrooms, Samad said. He mentioned a case a few months ago in which a district judge allegedly acquitted an accused facing charges of kidnapping a girl after he paid all the expenses to repair and refurnish his car. He also claimed that some judges adopted biased approach with some lawyers and did not give judgment on merit. The PLF representative also said that on April 22, he submitted a written complaint to the MIT, DJ South, the Chief Justice Sindh High Court and other relevant authorities against Judicial Magistrate Muhammad Arif Rajput for allegedly adopting biased attitude against him, but was discouraged.