ISLAMABAD - An application is filed in the Supreme Court seeking a comprehensive judgment on the steps needed for ending delays in Pakistan’s civil justice system.

The petitioners Advocates Umer Gillani, Hadiya Aziz, Muhammad Haider, Attaullah Hakin Kundi and Raheel Ahmed on Wednesday filed additional submissions in their main petition highlighting the six core areas which required reforms.

“The petitioners have humbly come to this Hon’ble Court seeking a comprehensive and path-breaking judgment which lays down a comprehensive blueprint for reform of the civil justice system and shows our entire nation the way forward,” the young lawyers stated in their application.

The main petition, which was filed on February 1, is fixed for hearing tomorrow (Friday). Replies have been received from all the respondents including registrar of high courts. However, Chief Commissioner Islamabad, in his capacity as Provincial Government of Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT), is yet to submit the reply.

The petitioners stated that there were 6 areas which required reforms and the top court could issue directions for reforming the administration of civil justice in these areas without encroaching upon the domain of the parliament.

These six areas include Framing of High Court Rules, Reinterpretation of Civil Procedure Code, Publishing relevant Judicial Data/Statistics, Formulating a new Judicial Policy, Enforcement of the Law of Costs, and Enforcement of anti-Perjury Laws. 

The application stated that procedural rules needed to be framed for things like Stage-wise time-lines for completion of different categories of suits, Rules for Judge-driven Case Management, Rules for Enforcement of Costs and anti-perjury laws, and Rules for Bench Constitution and Case Fixation.

The application stated that the framing of procedural rules was the responsibility of high court under Article 202 of the Constitution while the Supreme Court can only monitor and supervise the functioning of the high courts under Article 184(3).

The petition requested for the directions of top court to high courts to frame all necessary rules. It also requested for direction to National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC) to consider the rules framed by the various High Courts and promote unification.

Publishing of performance-related data including average shelf-life of various kinds of cases, acceptance rate of cases, overturn rate of various judges, which allows for public accountability of the judiciary, also needs to be done, the application stated adding that neither of these important statistics were published or disclosed at present.

The petitioners requested the top court to declare that the judiciary was obliged to disclose data relate to performance of courts and direct the High Courts to regularly publish this data. 

It also requested the top court to issue directions for enforcement of existing legal provisions related to Costs under Section 35 and 35-A of CPC and existing legal provisions related to Perjury under Sections 192-195 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

“A 20-year Human Resources Policy for the Judiciary which must include strategies including attracting better talent in the subordinate judiciary, keeping judges motivated throughout their careers, increasing the level of subject-matter specialization at all levels of the judiciary, and  increasing the representation of women needs to be done,” the petitioners contended.

The application also stated that a plan should also be devised for regulating lawyers and disciplining those who frequently commit abuse of process.

It is further contended that NJPMC and Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan had mandated for making such human resource policy adding the law minister and attorney general are members of the Commission and had an important role in driving the policy-making process and providing resources.

Directions to the respondents are also requested to conduct extensive consultations with all stakeholders and come up with a Judicial Policy within the next 100 days.

Petitioners requested the top court to take up each Reform Area on a separate, dedicated hearing.