ISLAMABAD  - Serving chief justices and judges should not sit in the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (LJCP) as they could hardly give any meaningful time to their job, suggested a renowned constitutional expert and former Senator yesterday.

The suggestion came from SM Zafar at a public hearing of the Senate Committee of Whole House where a number of other law experts were also invited to give their recommendations. "I shall recommend that no serving judge should be the member of Law and Justice Commission," he said. "At present, the Commission is dominated by the serving chief justice and judges who can hardly devote any meaningful time to the job," Zafar said while giving his recommendations to the committee to provide speedy and inexpensive justice in the country. The law expert also proposed that the commission should be an independent and autonomous body, which should work without any interference from any quarter and retired judges should sit in it. The Senate Committee of Whole House was constituted to provide speedy and inexpensive justice' in the country.

The Commission is headed by the Chief Justice of Pakistan and comprises other members including Chief Justice of Federal Shariat Court, chief justices of the high courts, Attorney General for Pakistan, Secretary, Ministry of Law and Chairperson, National Commission on the Status of Women and four other members, one from each province.

The three legal experts in the Senate Whole Committee urged the need to introduce alternate dispute resolution systems including local panchayat, as well as and complete reforms in the present police system to prove speedy and inexpensive justice in the country.

Former Senator SM Zafar, Secretary Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan and Abdul Malik Ghouri, a former magistrate, submitted their proposals before the committee followed by an interactive question and answers session.

Zafar proposed that a surgical operation of the existing judicial system was needed to make it efficient to provide speedy justice . He termed "inefficiency of system" as the main cause of the delay in dispensation of justice.

He said that a constitutional amendment might be introduced to ensure that suo moto jurisdiction of Supreme Court is used with 'Judicial Restraint'. He suggested that the Shariat Court instead of being a separate entity, which causes conflict of jurisdiction, be a part of high courts in the form of special benches.

Zafar asked for the introduction of local panchyat and alternate dispute resolution (ADR) system supplementary arbitration law to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the masses. He asked that to abolish the revision powers given in the CPC (Civil Procedure Code) and the CrPC (Criminal Procedure Code) were a major source of delay in the dissension of justice. He said that the judges should play a proactive role and examine the parties at initial stages and try to reduce the area of dispute to decide the case expeditiously. He said that judges themselves examine the documents instead of giving the time to the parties to see the documents. He asked to give access to e-library to the judges and to empower them with modern technology to finalize judgements.

Zafar also asked to abolish the intra-court appeal within high court and suggested there should be a direct appeal in the Supreme Court against a high court order. The Secretary, Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan stressed the need for strengthening the parliamentary oversight to evaluate implementation of law.

Abdul Malik Ghouri, former magistrate, proposed that a jury system should be introduced in the country keeping in view the model of US and UK. Local Police Chiefs and District Judges should be elected professionals and a regional court of justice for SAARC Countries should be established.

Earlier, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar taking part in the meeting, said that the foremost concern of the house should be to provide some avenue of justice to the most vulnerable section of the society namely the missing persons and those who have disappeared without a trace. He also said that the excessive use of suo moto has closed an important avenue of justice namely the right to appeal and called for a mechanism whereby this critical avenue was not blocked.

Senator Sherry Rehman, however, opposed the idea of panchyat system arguing it is repressive having more tilt towards culture. She also asked for the judicial restraint in contempt of court.