The 110 Model Criminal Trial Courts (MCTC) set up by the current Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa have yielded positive results, with a record 5600 cases decided in just 75 days – 1352 convicted, 535 judgements of life imprisonment and 175 death sentences. Bringing down the processing time of a criminal case from 4-5 years to 3 months is quite an impressive feat and the CJP must be commended for this.

Affected citizens can now count on the courts to deliver justice quickly, which will help establish even more trust in the country’s legal framework. A country’s legal system is judged by its ability to dispense fair and immediate justice to victims, and with cases lying unresolved in the past, incidents of mob lynchings and other such crimes indicate a distrust of the legal system among the public.

The success of the existing MCTCs has rightly led to a plan for expansion, and the additional 57 courts that are to become functional at the tehsil level starting June 24 will help in increasing the public’s access to justice across the entire country. These Model Courts are also reducing operating costs by using technology wherever required, and it is very positive to see the judicial system progressing towards using a more modern and efficient means of dispensing justice. Using video links for testimonies or for Supreme Court Judges remotely sitting in on hearings in registries across the country will only help in reducing costs, which can be utilised elsewhere, such as in the formation and running of the MCTCs.

However, a word of caution; fairness and impartiality come before the need to dispense justice to citizens as quickly as possible. Enforcing an absolute time limit without any flexibility might lead to judgements being handed out hastily, with false convictions and mistakes as a likely outcome.

Behind the high numbers of conviction, life imprisonment and death sentences there are lives and families and all citizens reserve the right to fair justice, both the victims and those accused. The provision of justice as a right, a deterrent and reparation for victims is only valid if the right person is punished for crimes committed. The judiciary system of the country has to find a balance; there is no room for leniency however, boosting conviction rates without due process could deny justice to many.