KARACHI - Chief Justice Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar yesterday urged the lawmakers to reform the judicial system to provide people cheap and early justice.

“We cannot make laws, it is the duty of legislature to make laws and introduce reforms,” he told the media after addressing the third Sindh Judicial Conference. The judges therefore cannot bring basic changes in the judicial system by themselves, he stressed.

The chief justice said the delay in justice was a big problem and the masses should have access to swift and cheap justice, but there were complaints of delay in dispensation of justice in almost every country.

Justice Saqib said that they know well about the hugeness of the cases’ backlog and the dearth of resources, and that was why the judges have to work hard and make extra efforts to decide the cases without delay.

He said that due to overburden, the judges are unable to spend time on one case which forces them to adjourn hearings without any notable development.

But, the CJP said that if the institution concerned [parliament] does not do its job regarding improvement in the judicial system, the judiciary should not make it an excuse; rather, the judges must utilise the existing resources to their full and do whatever is in their power to expedite the cases.

It is obligatory for a judge to decide a case within 30 days, he said, and directed the judges to stick to this deadline so as to save people from trouble.

Stressing the need for merit, transparency and judiciousness, he said the judges must decide the cases with total fairness and on merit. The judge has no discretionary powers, he stressed. Whosoever has to amend the laws for judicial system reform, they should pay due attention to this aspect [of fairness and merit], he added.

In terms of judicial system’s development and reform, the performance of Punjab province was comparatively better as the government has made model courts and the administration is using information technology, the CJP said. Perhaps the other provinces need to take a leaf from Punjab’s book in this regard, he added.

“One way to deter people from “dragging other people in courts” [and reducing the cases burden], he said, is to impose heavy costs if they are proven wrong in a court of law. This discourages people from extending a lawsuit that has little legal merit and is frivolous litigation.

The CJP said that it was an unhealthy practice that people did not fear being taken to court because they are sure that it will take years for a case to resolve and even once a court passes a verdict, the party takes advantage of the options of filing appeals in higher courts.

He particularly regretted that innocent people are sentenced to jail for long periods because of delays in the criminal litigation system, due to which the appellants have to wait for months or years in order to prove their innocence just because their appeals remain in pending for so long before being heard.

Dispelling the notion that the courts were responsible for setting culprits free, he said unfortunately, investigation is carried out in a substandard manner.

“Many criminals succeeded in getting off the hook owing to weak prosecution and eventually the blame for letting culprits walk away unscathed is parked at the door of the judiciary,” he said. He added that except for Punjab, there was no forensic lab of acceptable standard in the whole country.

The CJP also criticized the practice of undocumented or oral evidence, due to which several cases stretch for years. He insisted that first information reports should be filed after a thorough forensic examination of the crime scene instead of being lodged by an officer who has never visited the crime scene.

Justice Saqib pointed out that properties valuing millions of rupees were being transferred orally and acres of land were being transferred on the directive of Nambardars.