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"Justice delayed is justice denied"






An interview with Justice (R) Rasheed Ahmed Razvi - President of Sindh High Court Bar Association

Jan 22 - 28, 2001

Rasheed Ahmed Razvi, advocate, newly elected president of Sindh High Court Bar Association has expressed his dismay and anguish over what he described the deteriorating human values bringing the social, economic and political systems at the verge of collapse in Pakistan.

Talking exclusively to Pakistan & Gulf Economist he said that it is irony of fate that whether elected or unelected, the governments never gave importance to the legal system in Pakistan, hence eroding the credibility of the system.

He regretted that governments generally consider the legal system as their rival and it has always been on the hit list virtually of all the governments. People rightfully expect cheap and speedy relief from the legal system, yet forgetting the fact that the judges are generally appointed after the clearance by at least 17 government agencies. These agencies naturally switch over their loyalties with the government of the day and therefore presumably the clearance is given only to like minded people. Despite of vital importance for smooth sailing of the legal system, 4 positions of the judges are lying vacant for the last 6 months in Sindh High Court.

His attention was drawn towards the common proverbial saying "justice delayed is justice denied" suitably fits to the role of the lawyers, who are allegedly involved in using delaying tactics he fully concurred to this view. There is a general impression that the lawyers instead of becoming helpful in the delivery of speedy justice, have allegedly made the judicial system slow and costly causing great hardships to the litigants through managing adjournments and false promises to the clients. The image of the lawyers as well as the judicial system has been destroyed to such an extent that people in general prefer to avoid coming into contact with the legal system. Instead of indulging into endless process of litigation or any sort of legal battle they usually try to settle disputes out of the courts. People in general do not get any relief from our legal system and are suffering tremendous hardships in getting their disputes resolved especially in the subordinate courts. In most of the cases even the first appearance before the court takes years. There are identical stories in many cases pending over the years that the witnesses expire while the aggrieved still keep on waiting for the verdict.

Rasheed Razvi, however did not agree to this point and observed even without a pause 'we should not take things in isolation'. Which segment of the society for that matter has been able to maintain values ? he volleyed a counter question. It may be highly unfair to single out the lawyers in this scenario because the situation in other equally important professions such as bureaucracy, politics, health, education, journalism and even the religious institutions is not an exception, he remarked.

Razvi, having a wide exposure both to the public and private sector to his credit by serving as the senior judge of the Sindh High Court and of course an outstanding advocate of the Supreme and the High Courts was competent enough to dilate upon the judicial system in the country.

Regarding the existing situation in the lower courts, he regretted that the courts, which are responsible to dispense people with justice, are the most neglected sector in our society. These courts are working without essentially required paraphernalia. Large number of cases are pending in the courts mainly due to shortage of judges and ancillary facilities. The number of judges is less than half of the total requirement in Sindh while the courts in other provinces is facing the same situation. Razvi said that the number of the piled up cases is generally so high that it is not humanely possible for a judge to treat them accordingly. The judges of the lower courts are working in such a situation they have to carry files of cases to their homes to study them at night and write their comments and judgements. The lower courts have certainly not been provided the facilities, which are essentially required in the courts to function in a proper manner. The broken furniture presents a shabby look, there is no concept of libraries in the lower courts and what to speak of clean and hygienic washrooms. The honorable judges are treated at par with the government servants of grade-17 with the same salary package. Everyone knows that poverty breeds corruption and that is the case with most of the important sections of the system. Since the number of cases is beyond the strength of a judge it paves the way for the readers of the court to play the uncalled for role in the system. He suggested that beside increasing the number of judges in the lower courts their salaries and facilities are also required to be enhanced and raised to a respectable level for them to function effectively.

Advocate Rasheed Razvi while citing his personal experience said that while he was the judge of the Sindh High Court he could hardly afford the expenditures of his son studying in Murree. Now working as a lawyer of the High Courts and Supreme Court he was in a position to send his son abroad for higher education. There is an immediate need to create an atmosphere where the people responsible for delivering justice are paid accordingly, he recommended emotionally.