Judicial Reforms & Parameters for Change

Judicial Reforms & Parameters for Change

Arguably, judicial reforms must be at the core of across-the-board institutional reforms that are needed in the country. Without a viable, fair and effective judiciary, a modern, tolerant, inclusive and progressive society cannot be established.

Without doubt, the judicial process needs significant reform, and a process must begin of not just identifying the flaws and problems in the justice system but recommending sensible and implementable solutions.

Indeed, the judicial activism of the superior judiciary has helped expose the many deficiencies in the overall judicial system: a well-functioning system that provides justice at the grass roots should not require high court and Supreme Court judges to arbitrarily intervene on behalf of petitioners and litigants.

But the superior judiciary may want to reflect on the growing criticism directed at it from many independent quarters. While disruption can be good for moribund institutions, the many interventions that superior court judges have made in recent times have created a decidedly mixed record.

While populism can be one measure of judicial success — and by that measure, the current superior judiciary would appear to be doing tremendously well — the judicial institution the world over has been built on clear rules, good laws and sound precedent.

The most effective judiciaries are in jurisdictions where the apex courts consistently interpret the law and coordinate their efforts with the executive and the legislature. At the very top, the judicial institution is neither flashy nor arbitrary. It is apparent that the superior judiciary in Pakistan, not least Chief Justice, is keen to deliver a better quality of justice to the people of Pakistan.

What is lacking, if the superior judiciary will permit a positive-minded critique of recent events, is a systematic plan and consistency of action. The unfortunate episode with a lower court judge in Sindh could be a turning point for all concerned. While its authority must be respected, it is advisable that the apex court approach its interventions and the task of reforms more cautiously.