The Supreme Court has given the government a week to fill vacancies of judges of special anti-corruption courts in Karachi and Hyderabad, with directions to fix responsibility against those who caused the delay in the process of appointments. Initial reports suggest and Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry has also observed that some influential officials may have deliberately exerted influence to delay the appointments – particularly in the anti-corruption court in Karachi where no judge has been appointed since May 25, 2011 – in order to get bails from magistrate courts on technical grounds, i.e. on the expiry of the statutory period in jail. Judges have also not been posted to banking and accountability courts and thus people charged with related crimes have been left languishing in jail, waiting for trials that are incessantly delayed. Legal experts say they may even have to be released on grounds of non-availability of judges. Reportedly, seventeen summaries about vacancies in anti-corruption courts have been sent to the prime minister for approval, only after which the law ministry can issue notifications for appointment of the judges of the special courts. The government had thus asked the court to give two weeks for the completion of the process, but the court has only granted it one.
Indeed the appointment of judges to special court should not be treated as a routine affair but a task of extraordinary importance, with some kind of a political strategy behind it. If the PM’s approval is all that is awaited, then he must get up to the task immediately so that those allegedly involved in serious crimes as well as those doing time for crimes they did not commit can both get speedy justice. Corruption poses a daunting challenge to Pakistan’s economy and to the prospects of service delivery. Unfortunately, corruption is also largely accepted as a way of life here. Bribery, embezzlement, causing financial loss, false accounting, influence-peddling and nepotism are only some of the corruption-related ailments that inflict this society. This dirty business has to be countered to transform society root and branch. The judiciary can play a very important role in this struggle – but only if the government lets it, or does not stand in its way. The PPP government record on this count is clearly negative. Transparency International Pakistan has already reported that Yousuf Raza Gilani’s 50-month rule as prime minister was the worst in Pakistan’s 65-year history in terms of corruption, with the country losing more than Rs8.5 trillion in corruption, tax evasion and bad governance. Even the present NAB chief endorsed the TIP figures by stating that every day Rs 6 to 8 billion are lost in corruption. The new prime minister has very little time but lots to prove and we can only hope he will move quickly on the appointment of anti-corruption judges, see to it that justice is not delayed or denied and save himself from earning an even darker reputation than this predecessor. To expect a fast forward process although would be like expecting a miracle. http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-8-118661-Judges-vacancies