Pakistan's Chief Justice Saqib Nisar. Photo: Supreme Court of Pakistan

Stone Age humans had armed gangs to solve disputes. The side with the biggest and most well-armed gang was ultimately the winner. But as humans evolved they began to see the merits of resolving disputes peacefully and invented the judicial system.

Courts were set up and disputes were taken to a judge for consideration. With the birth and evolution of courts, humans also discovered the art of manipulating the process and using propaganda, power and money to tilt things in their favor.

In South Asia, courts are often used to settle personal scores or to annoy enemies with baseless allegations. In Pakistan, people love to file baseless cases. Often they go to court just to settle personal grudges. So this habit of filing baseless and illogical cases overloads the courts and wastes the money and time of their opponent.

There is a social factor to this as well. Pakistan’s collective psychology is such that if someone is accused of any sort of allegation and goes to court to seek justice, we see him as a criminal even if he wins the case and proves his innocence in court. On the other hand, millions of people struggle to get justice through the courts but their cases are not taken up or proceed so slowly that it normally takes far too long to get a verdict.

In the case of a common man being accused of a crime, he is instantly punished if the accuser is wealthy or influential. However, if an influential person is accused of a crime he gets instant relief from the courts.

There are thousands of criminals who have the power of money and connections to defy the legal system of Pakistan every day and keep blackening the face of society and the system.

State, judiciary or law enforcement agencies do not even think to touch powerful criminals and to some extent help them to get off the hook. If a high-profile person or terrorist is presented in court, many judges take leave to avoid the proceedings, or give relief to the accused because of pressure.

Their frustration over being oppressed by the powerful is channeled into their treatment of the common man, and they exercise their full authority over the common people just to satisfy their bruised egos. Even judicial findings are usually kept in the dark.

From the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report findings to the Abbottabad Incident Report, many judicial fact-findings are not announced or are not published. Missing-person cases become missing files. Strangely, cases of a political nature and blasphemy are taken up on an urgent basis, and their decisions are announced quickly. It is strange that courts can find time to hear a case of a purely political nature but cannot find time to take up thousands of cases whose files remain buried under the table for decades.

Judges can hear blasphemy cases on an urgent basis and easily convict the common person, but they don’t dare take land-scam cases involving army generals or major criminals

Judges can hear blasphemy cases on an urgent basis and easily convict the common person, but they don’t dare take land-scam cases involving army generals or major criminals.

The higher courts recently observed that the judiciary was being criticized unnecessarily and that this constituted contempt of court. Now this raises some serious questions. Is the failure to bring the rich and powerful to book not contempt of court?

Is bringing the common people to justice while exempting the mighty and well connected not  a show of contempt for humanity? Millions of common people are watching these big guns raping the constitution and with their empty eyes they are only asking questions: When will they be given justice? When will cases pending for years be heard by honorable judges? A society can never flourish if justice is meted out selectively.

Judges are not supposed to preach or interpret religion, nor do they need to teach moral values based on their own perceived morals and religious beliefs. Their duty is to interpret the constitution and to make sure that speedy justice is being provided to aggrieved people. When will the judges take suo moto notice on the contemptuous practice of not providing speedy and true justice of millions Pakistanis? The common people are waiting for an answer.

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Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist and columnist/commentator for newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, and political, policy and media related think-tanks.

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