Incomplete trials, postponed hearings and impending justice; this is the story of our judicial system. Former Minister for Religious Affairs Hamid Saeed Kazmi, former DG of Hajj Rao Shakeel and Joint Secretary Religious Affairs Raja Aftab Aslam have been acquitted in the Hajj Scandal this Wednesday. The decision was taken by Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). While talking to media outside the jail Kazmi said, "The court has termed my prison sentence as void." Kazmi was sentenced to 12-year imprisonment in the Hajj corruption case, while former DG Hajj Rao Shakeel to 30 years’ imprisonment and former Additional Secretary to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Aftab Ahmed, to a 12-year imprisonment.

This raises questions on the effectiveness and reliability of our criminal justice system. These officials were accused of corruption and massive irregularities during Hajj operations between 2009 and 2012 and the case was initiated due to a letter from the Saudi government. Our own Minister for Science and Technology, Mr Azam Khan Swati, brought the issue to the forefront and suo moto action was taken against.

Was the prison sentence too much for the delicate souls? Has the system, once again, treated its VIPs with mercy? A federal minister who is appointed for the smooth and honest functioning of the government, was found guilty. In this particular case, where action was actually taken, justice has been reversed. Decisions such as these feel like a façade, just to appease the public temporarily and fool them into believing that significant action is being taken. Yet, the public must respect the decisions of the honourable court, decisions that set dangerous precedents, because they don’t really have a choice.

The question remains whether our own authorities have enough integrity to realise the kind of responsibilities they have towards the state and for how long will they promote values of sluggishness, unaccountability, and lack of regard for the system in place. If avoiding due punishment is our idea of justice – after a major scandal, that too, related to a sacred religious responsibility – and those who were once declared guilty are now innocent, where can victims turn to for fairness?