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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), on Thursday directed the federal government to start construction work on the judicial complex in the federal capital within a month.

A single bench of Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the directions, while hearing a petition seeking direction for construction of a separate building for district courts as per population ratio in the federal capital.

The IHC bench directed to constitute a committee of secretaries of the interior, law, and planning ministries, and remarked that the work should start in 30 days without getting stuck in bureaucratic problems.

Justice Minallah remarked that the court did not want to intervene but would also not allow the violation of the basic rights of the people.

He added that the situation in the district courts was a matter of the basic rights of the complainants.

He said that the court had trust in Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government that the problem would be solved.

During the hearing, the secretary of the Ministry of Law and Justice told that PC-1 (Project Cycle) of the judicial complex would be approved today.

The court also ordered to submit a progress report over the construction of the lawyers’ complex and administrative control of the workers of special courts.

On the court’s orders, the federal secretary, Ministry of Interior, the federal secretary, Ministry of Law and Justice, and the chief commissioner, Islamabad Capital Territory appeared before the court in person along with their respective reports regarding status of construction of judicial complex for District Courts, and the facilities for lawyers on the separate plot earmarked for this purpose.

It was December 24, 2020, when Mirza Shahzad Akbar, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister had appeared and had given an assurance that the shifting of the District Courts from F-8 to the five-acre plot allotted for this purpose will be given top priority by the federal government.

Justice Minallah mentioned the assurance given by Akbar, and asked the law secretary why the directions given by the Supreme Court were not implemented, and censured him for not complying with the court’s orders.

Earlier, a joint report was submitted by the respective registrars of the Accountability Courts and the Special Courts established in the Federal Judicial Complex.

The IHC bench stated that the joint report shows that the prevailing working conditions are deplorable and obviously an impediment in the dispensation of justice.

It also denies to the litigants their right of effective access to justice.

According to the report, the three Accountability Courts are overburdened.

There are 108 trials pending.

The court staff is employed and controlled by the Ministry of Law and Justice.

It has been highlighted in the report that there is a shortage of court staff, while the efficiency of the staff posted by the Ministry of Law and Justice is questionable.

No budget has been allocated for meeting the expenditure of the Federal Judicial Complex and the special courts established therein.

It is alarming to note that the management of the building of the Federal Judicial Complex has no ownership because the Pakistan Works Department has refused to accept the responsibility.

Several special courts are non-functional because judicial officers have not been posted by the Federal Government.

The working conditions at the Federal Judicial Complex are abysmal and definitely it has a profound effect on the functioning of the special courts and dispensation of justice.

After issuing the directions, the IHC bench deferred the hearing until March 30th.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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