n Mohammad Tariq Bucha The restoration of judiciary gave hope and promise for speedy justice to the people of Pakistan, despite the fact that many forces tried to hinder the lawyers movement. All the forcibly deposed judges were restored and the nation heaved a sigh of relief with great hopes and expectations for efficient and quick delivery of justice. But after a couple of years, although the superior judiciary is trying to deliver, yet there has been no change in the lower judiciary where the people are subject to delayed and denied justice. This is because there is not much control and accountability system for the judges of these courts. Delaying tactics, unfair practices and exploitation by the concerned quarters make the plaintiffs and defendants run from pillar to post with continuous extension of dates on one pretext or the other. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has time and again reiterated the need to improve this situation, but little change or improvement is visible. How and when will the much needed 'change take place is anybody's guess? Would the nation need another short or long march or the honourable Chief Justice will take a suo moto action? So what is meant by the delivery of justice? This is, indeed, an honest and professional responsibility. However, to know the real meaning, we will have to browse/scroll through the pages of history. History reveals that those who were bestowed with this responsibility shivered with fear because of the consequences of administering justice. On many occasions, the judge or person being asked to take up this responsibility used to shirk away, with the apprehension that while administering justice they may falter deliberately or inadvertently. The mere thought of this possible erring made them fear the wrath and scourge of Allah. Therefore, according to a famous saying, "any success or victory which is devoid of justice is merely similar to drinking a cup of poison." To guide the human beings in this context, Allah Almighty has directed in the Holy Quran: "O believers, stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be rich or poor. So, do not follow the lusts of your hearts lest you may avoid justice" (Surah An Nisa, Ayat 135). Similarly, in Sahih Muslim and Bukhari , Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on one occasion said: By God, if even Muhammad's daughter Fatima is guilty of theft, I will order her hand to be chopped." John Galsworthy, an English novelist and play writer, said: "Justice is like a train which, if given a little push, will move forward of its own. So, why not now push it a bit now so that it moves forward and successfully towards the destination of justice in Pakistan. Haile Selassie, the Emperor of Ethiopia, said: Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph. All said and done, the main question is what to do and how to do it? As they say, there is no shortcut to success, and some careful and meaningful steps have to be taken to achieve the objective of delivering justice. For this, a two-pronged strategy will be required to achieve the objective and reach this destination, which is (a) Immediate Measures and (b) Special Measures. Immediate Measures The Chief Justice of Pakistan had constituted a commission to deliberate and suggest reforms to provide speedy and cheaper justice. However, unfortunately, the commission has so far not been able to devise a realistic and positive approach, despite its full comprehension of the prevalent system of administering justice in the lower courts. It is, therefore, imperative that this commission should be restructured and its terms of reference revisited with a set timeline for announcement and implementation, followed by continuous monitoring for fine-tuning wherever necessary. Special Measures The independence of judiciary: The essential of an independent judiciary is separation from the executive. The appointments of judges for the Supreme Court and the High Courts should be totally independent and subject to ratification by Parliament only, for which necessary rules and procedures should be drafted. Special legal counsel facility available for the deserving and widows: Although, I believe such a provision exists, yet it should be made effective. This should be available free or at the cost of the state to all the people, who cannot afford the fees of the court and the lawyer's expenses. Time limit for the decision of cases: According to a safe estimate, more than 200,000 cases are pending in the court on one pretext or the other and as said previously "justice delayed is justice denied." Therefore, it is suggested that a time limit should be fixed for different cases as under: Cases Duration Ordinary civil cases 4-6 months Criminal cases 8-12 months Corporate or other business related cases 4-6 months Constitutional cases 6-8 months Election related cases 4-6 months Family and other miscellaneous cases 4-6 months Rethinking about stamp duty: Every democratic governments foremost duty is to provide affordable and immediate justice to its people. It is, therefore, important that keeping in mind the affordability of the people of Pakistan, stamp duty for various cases should be reconsidered and revised. Introduction of jury system in lower courts: The jury system in practice in the USA, the UK and other civilised states, be introduced in the lower courts of Pakistan to overcome the ills of the present system. The size and system of the selection/election can be devised, but the following criteria should be kept in mind before a jury is appointed: p The members of the jury should be people of good repute. p The jury members should be law graduates with 10 years unblemished legal practice. p Retired judges can also be made members of jury. p It would be better, if the jury members are elected under a specially devised process. Change in the system of appointing judges of lower courts: For an independent judiciary, it is imperative that the judges for the lower courts be appointed on strict merit. For this purpose, it is suggested to form a special commission consisting of the Chief Justice of the related High Court as the Chairman, while the other members should be the retired chief justices or the senior judges from the related provinces. The same commission should be responsible for the transfers and promotions of judges. Revisit law of evidence: The prevalent law of evidence is being used to manipulate the law, for their exploitative ends. It is, therefore, important that a group of senior lawyers may be assigned to study and suggest necessary amendments so that it can be updated to meet the requirements of justice. As a final word, the suggestions made above are based on good intentions and sincere motives. They are not at all final or ultimate; they are merely an attempt to serve the people of Pakistan. Our judiciary has been provided with an opportunity by the long march to ensure speedy and affordable justice for all. These days, the way justice was administered in the past is considered old and obsolete. Yet, if studied carefully and intently, it will become evident that in those days justice was delivered without favour or fear - even the Khalifahs if accused of a crime were summoned to appear in the court of law in person and they had to abide by it. Therefore, one wonders whether this age is civilised and the society based on the principles of justice or the good old days n The writer is a freelance columnist.