Justice comes to he who waits (not)

Published: October 15, 2010
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Mukhtaran Mai, who was gang-raped in 2002, is still waiting for justice.

All hope abandon ye who enter here

The morbid phrase from Dante’s ‘Inferno’ depicting Hell’s grim greeting to the damned, quite lamentably sounds like a forewarning for anyone with hopes of prompt deliverance in our judicial system.

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No reason to trust the courts

Pardon the skepticism and faltering trust, but one finds it difficult to have confidence in a system which stutters to deliver rapid and just verdicts, even in cases where ideal evidence and eye witnesses exist. Need one ponder the plight of victims wronged behind closed doors, in solitude or the dark silence of the night?

There’s no denying that in cases which survive obstacles in the registration process and then see the light of a day at a Sessions Court, routine tardiness from authorities facilitates escapes, tampering of evidence and intimidation of witnesses. If the courts remain entangled in procedural hitches (despite the availability of textbook evidence), justice is delayed and denied each passing day.

Still waiting for justice

A random visit to any District Court would reveal the number of miserable citizens pursuing cases that have been lingering in courtrooms for years and often decades. Only a handful of pleas are fortunate enough to gain momentum through the media and even fewer accorded the honour of suo moto action.

In world renowned cases wherein huge promises of justice and exemplary punishment were sworn, everything was delivered except justice itself. Although Mukhtaran Mai created waves across the globe with her bold stance, becoming an icon of resilience and philanthropy, her violators have remained unpunished for their savagery, committed in 2002.They continue benefitting from the loopholes (and incompetence) of our judicial system, while also relying on the power of political guards in the form of feudal ministers.

Suo moto action: a symptom, not a cure

The fact that the popular Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry glamourised the trend of suo moto action is not a sign of judicial relief, but disillusionment which necessitates judges to artificially fill the void left by the ineptitude of departments oblivious to their duties.
Like the heart-wrenching incident of 15 August in Sialkot, each suo moto represents our national failure at different levels. The failure of civil society to rise up against evil. The failure of individuals to protest against fellow citizens’ distress. The failure of the police and district courts to uphold the law. The failure of rescuers to save lives. The failure of children to question their elders. The failure of the local administration to take action in time. The failure of local imams to use their mosque loudspeakers to proclaim the Almighty’s laws damning killers. The failure of the local legislators to forego vote-bank politics over corpses. The failure of the concerned ministers and leaders to pay heed to human miseries without the surety of photo-ops. The failure of education, religious as well as worldly, to mould human beings into humane beings.

Is the judiciary really free?

According to some jingoists, our judiciary is independent of the clutches of all influence since the new awakening of the legal fraternity in 2007. Yet, one is compelled to wonder if there is really no influence channeled from the feudal, industrial, political or social elite.

Wouldn’t it be fitting for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to publish details on the number of civil and criminal cases pertaining to common citizens and their everyday woes, which were pending for more than 5 years before 2007 and have since been duly and justly concluded? It would be a confidence booster to learn that the benefits of a free judiciary have started trickling down to the common man. Or will justice too, like much else in our environment, remain a luxury reserved only for the privileged?

haris.masood.zubairi

Haris Masood Zuberi

A finance and audit professional with an interest in military affairs and socio-political issues. He contributes to several publications and has served on the editorial teams of two lifestyle magazines.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • faraz

    I think she is unable to present 4 witnesses to prove that she was rapedRecommend

  • Fatima Mustafa

    Do we have “justice” in Pakistan? How does it look like? How does it smell? How does it taste? Please tell me. ThanksRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/13/syed-ali/ S. Ali Raza

    I think Jamshed Dasti the PPP MNA has a score to settle with this case. http://tribune.com.pk/story/24717/mukhtar-mai-in-jamshed-dasti%E2%80%99s-crosshairs/Recommend

  • err

    that was such a rant.
    @Faraz, you don’t need 4 witnesses to prove a rape case under the law. Recommend

  • parvez

    Nice article.
    People blame the politicians and the armed forces for the state of the nation today.
    The reality is that the judiciary, over all these years never shouldered its responsibilities and much of the rot we see in society stems from this neglect.
    Justice must not only be done it must be seen to have been done. Recommend

  • Miss Sana

    each suo moto represents our national failure at different levels. The failure of civil society to rise up against evil. The failure of individuals to protest against fellow citizens’ distress. The failure of the police and district courts to uphold the law. The failure of rescuers to save lives. The failure of children to question their elders. The failure of the local administration to take action in time. The failure of local imams to use their mosque loudspeakers to proclaim the Almighty’s laws damning killers. The failure of the local legislators to forego vote-bank politics over corpses. The failure of the concerned ministers and leaders to pay heed to human miseries without the surety of photo-ops. The failure of education, religious as well as worldly, to mould human beings into humane beings.

    Exactly! And I wonder when we’ll grow up and stop idolizing judiciary like it’s something untouchable! The fact is our courts are so weak its not even funny! God save everyone from them! Recommend

  • I. Bukhari

    Indeed! I love the phrase All Hope Abandon Ye Who Enter Here! Gels in perfectly with Pakistan and it’s courts these days!Recommend

  • Sameer

    Bingo! Its so funny, really, how EVERYONE in this country sings songs about the holiness of our judicial system and yet justice is never served!

    People blame Musharraf for meddling with the judicial system…tell me, were we all happy with the system before 2007? Recommend

  • aiman

    omg. i didn’t know mukhtara mai’s rapists were still roaming free!! were they actually never sent to jail?? seriously…is this a joke? people have been giving her awards for crying out loud and every politician cashed in on her misery…i’m speechless!!!!!!!Recommend

  • aiman

    btw, nice article haris. it’s been an eye opener for me…like literally! we don’t pay much attention to these things unless we read directly about them…so thanks!Recommend

  • Tariq A. Mahmood

    Sir, my version is altogether different. In fact, after Quaid-e-Azam no any dedicated/devoted leader has come to lead the nation. This I can claim that no one can compete Pakistani nation provided there is a dedicated/devoted leader to lead them.
    We are very good nation and there is no any shortage of talents and valuable reseviors provided we are made disciplined in any sphere of life and it is possible only when our leaders are also to be so. We should follow this slogan, ” My Country on the first, my society on the second and my self on the last”. If we comply with this slogan, I assure you that no one on this earth can dare to cast an evil eye on us.

    Thanks and lot of regards.Recommend

  • Tariq A. Mahmood

    **Revised**

    Sir, my version is altogether different. In fact, after Quaid-e-Azam no any dedicated/devoted leader has come to lead the nation. This I can claim that no one can compete Pakistani nation provided there is a dedicated/devoted leader to lead them.
    We are very good nation and there is no any shortage of talents and valuable reseviors provided we are made disciplined in all the sphere of life and it is possible only when our leaders are also to be so. We should follow this slogan, ” My Country on the first, my society on the second and my self on the last”. If we comply with this slogan, I assure you that no one on this earth can dare to cast an evil eye on us.
    Thanks and lot of regards.
    Recommend