Karachi: Military adventurism always harms judicial system; however, the role of lawyers and civil society in Pakistan for restoration of the judiciary is highly commendable, said speakers of a moot here Tuesday.
The two-day India-Pakistan regional workshop on ‘Judicial Activism, Public Interest Litigation and Human Rights’ launched here, jointly organized by Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research PILER, Hamdard University School of Law in collaboration with Human Rights Law Network HRLN India.
Indian senior lawyer Colin Gonsalves, Mukul Sinha Advocate, Nijhari Sinha Advocate, Justice Retd. Nasir Aslam Zahid, Faisal Siddiqui, Karamat Ali of PILER, Mohammed Ali Shah, Chairperson Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF and others spoke on the occasion.
Justice Retd. A.K. Ganguly from India and Justice Retd Rashid A Rizvi from Pakistan gave detailed overview of constitutional and judicial systems in their respective countries and discussed the status of public interest litigation and constraints at judicial level.
Ganguly in his speech gave examples of revolutionary changes brought in public interest cases in different countries of South Asia.
Justice Retd Rashid A Rizvi gave examples of prominent judgments and amendments in the Pakistan judiciary to understand the public interest activism within judiciary and impacts of increasing religion extremism. He also criticized military adventurism, which badly affected the judicial system. He lauded the role of lawyers and other civil society activists in Pakistan for restoration of the judiciary.
After restoration of judiciary in 2009, he said, the country witnessed that the cases of missing persons and bonded labour were taken up by judiciary, which provided an important forum to the citizens, especially the marginalized people.
Justice Retd Nasir Aslam Zahid talking about the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners said the Judicial Committee has helped the prisoners from both the sides by visiting jails in both the countries. There are 437 Indian prisoners in Malir Jail Karachi, out of which 284 are those who have completed their terms. They are still in jails because of bureaucratic hurdles, he added. It is a violation of Constitutions of both India and Pakistan.
He said when he visited Indian prisons to meet Pakistani prisoners to confirm their nationality it took few minutes, but the bureaucracy have been languishing in jails for years. He urged the judiciary members to play their role and make the process easy in the public interest.
The lawyers’ couple Mukul Sinha Advocate and his wife Nijhari Sinha Advocate gave a joint presentation on ‘Judicial intervention in cases of communal conflicts’ in India. If there is any party wanted to get votes of minority, the counter political parties use majority votes and in this way communal conflict rises. In this situation it depends on active judiciary how it should play role to avoid communal conflicts and resolve the issue of minority.
Colin Gonsalves, Advocate from India said there are revolutionary changes in laws and public interest cases are being taken. According to him developed countries, even Europe and US cannot understand the public interest cases, but in developing countries the situation is different.
“In India 40 percent people earn bellow PKR 100 a day. Due to this there is malnutrition and poverty, he said. He said a court can give orders, but it cannot implement it. It is the responsibility of state to implement the orders. Tracing the history, he said there was a tradition that prisoners used to write letter to courts and judges would turn the same letters into petitions for hearing to provide relief to the victims.
He said World Trade Organisation WTO, World Bank and multinational companies force the governments to breach their own laws just to safeguard the interests of such world organizations.
Apart from this private sector is being promoted in education, health sector and water. In this situation how can poor people survive as their children are even victims of malnourishment. He also opposed public-private partnership, terming it a dangerous trend for the marginalized people.
Karamat Ali of PILER said since 1971 the situation of the people living in both the sides of Pakistan and India have been in trouble, especially the fishermen who are being victimized by the neighbouring governments to keep their political rivalry intact. In Pakistan there is no voice of the common people. Those associated with trade unions do not have stronger voice to protect their rights. There are the issues facing minority people and women in the society, he added. “If we all want to end terrorism, extremism we should come forward and fight together.
Faisal Siddiqi, advocate talking about the public interest litigation PIL situation in Pakistan said people are tired to filing petitions to resolve their issues. He said seeds of PIL were sown in 1972. Darshan Masih case was the first public interest litigation case in Pakistan. Talking about the judicial activism, he said when Martial law was imposed in 1977 the entire judiciary kept silent till 1988. Similarly, in 1999 when Musharraf took over the judiciary was divided. But the citizens’ mobilization came to surface in 2007. There was massive growth of the media after 2007. Gradually, the change came to surface in public interest litigations.
He said the law might be a part of solution of the peoples basic problem. Pro labour judges are described as anti-industry judges. Judges cannot implement their judgments because it is the responsibility of state to implement the orders. For example, Karachi violence case and Balochistan case, the judiciary passed order but the state did not implement.
Tradeunionist Nasir Mansoor, Javed Qazi Advocate, PPP leader Taj Haider, Zulfiqar Halepoto human rights activist and others spoke. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah gave a presentation on the prisoners’ issue.