Tayyaba’s case finally seems to be garnering the right sort of legal attention, but it took intervention from the highest legal arbiter in the land to make it so. The Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar said in the latest hearing that the compromise deed between the parents of the housemaid and a serving Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) is “unacceptable” due to the statement recorded by Tayyaba’s father before the bench.

The statement, where he testified that he did not want a compromise, was ignored by the lower court, and his thumbprint was sought on a paper he could not read by the accused’s consul. As the CJP observed, the breaches of law piled up. Pre-arrest bail was granted to Maheen Zafar – wife of the ADSJ Khurram Ali Khan and the main accused – in a non-bailable offence concerning violence against a child and child labour. Custody of the minor was handed over to her purported parents in rushed proceedings. Most worryingly, the accused was set free despite a police report stating that “investigation was carried out from all angles and it revealed that young Tayyaba was brutally tortured by the lady accused, Maheen Bibi”.

This is clearly a travesty of the law that seems to be on the path of correction now that the case has made it to the apex court, but not all cases like Tayyaba’s will generate such media scrutiny, not all will reach the Supreme Court, and not all will invite attention from the Chief Justice. While we must commend the actors in this saga who got this individual case the attention it deserved, our focus must be on fixing the glaring systematic problems that exist in our justice system, which have allowed the supposed guardians of the law to so brazenly break it in the confines of the courtroom itself.

We saw how easy it was for a few compromised judges – ADSJ Raja Asif Mehmood and ADSJ Atta Rabbani, colleagues of the accused – to manipulate the law to their advantage, a fact made easier by an illiterate opposing party. How is it possible that judges with clear conflicts of interest adjudicated the case in the first place? Do we need additional independent observers in courtrooms to insure that the judges do not break the law?

These are questions that the judicial fraternity as a whole needs to answer, especially the CJP. Righting one wrong at a time will never be enough. A strong deterring precedent is needed, and the three ADSJs who abused their power and responsibility to manipulate the law need to be made an example of.