PIC incident is regrettable and condemnable: CJP Khosa. Pakistan‘s Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said on Saturday that the “tragic, incredible and shocking” attack on the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) by a group of lawyers earlier this week “shouldn’t have happened” and is “an opportunity for introspection and self-responsibility.”
On Wednesday, legal fraternity members had reportedly organized a violent protest at the PIC on a mission to avenge some lawyers who had been beaten up at the hospital a couple of weeks ago.
The incident resulted in the death of three critically ill patients after doctors fled the wards to escape the enraged mob barking into the hospital, damaging equipment, and broken windows and doors.
“Our hearts and minds reach out to the victims and their families,” said CJP Khosa at a national conference on expeditious justice in Islamabad.
“We hope and pray that all concerned want to uphold the values attached to both the legal profession and the medical profession,” he said.
Justice Khosa said he always believed in “divinity, law, and medicine[ to be] the noblest of professions.” He called on those employed in these professions to “make every effort to keep the nobility of such professions intact.”
He expressed hope that “better sense will prevail,” not only in this particular incident and its consequences but also in the future.
Then the chief justice said he would refrain from saying more about the case as the matter was sub judice before the Lahore High Court.
The chief justice spoke of the reforms brought to a justice system full of delays over the last eleven months.
He said many bridges have been crossed, but one thing has been constant: the desire to “do something.”
“We’re not going to go down without a fight. Lord Almighty gave us an opportunity to serve our people and we’re not going to let this opportunity go to waste,” Justice Khosa said.
He said that even on January 18, as he presented his future plans, he had said during the full court reference for the outgoing chief justice: “This blood of Baloch in me forces me to do something, something that serves our well-being and prosperity.”
The chief justice said that what appeared to be “the end of trial courts” in Pakistan was the greatest criticism faced by the judiciary.
“There was no hope left. People were thinking of fully conceiving another program.” But we were thinking of doing something to make the system work. God says He supports the self-helping. So we were determined to bring about a change, “said Justice Khosa.
He said all the recommendations were buried in books while there was the possibility of law reforms— with 15-20 commissions formed in the past to change the law, the procedure, and the court structure.
“We said we’re not going to do it. We’re going to look for solutions from within existing systems, rules, and procedures.’ The same judges, the same attorneys, the same regulations, the same procedures, and no extra expense to give new life to a dead process,’ he said.
He said the chief justice set out to find the causes for a pause in the justice system— particularly with regard to criminal proceedings — and seven to suit a dead system. So we were talking about how to develop a system like this.
Justice Khosa said a “roll-over scheme” of 40-50 cases running alongside “was incorrect.”
“Systems that deliver results anywhere in the world have an ongoing court process. They send you a date— even if it’s a year and a half ago — but when it (the jury) starts, it’s seen through in the next few days and the judge won’t have any other event.
“That’s how we thought we’re going to bring such a system. So people just have to wait until a certain point and no longer have to wait after the set date.”
He said the other fundamental flaw found for which the “holes are filled” was how state cases — cases where the plaintiff is the state — are held.
“The state is the plaintiff, so it is the state’s responsibility to show the witnesses and evidence. This responsibility has been assigned to the grieved party for some time now, which was ordered to put forward witnesses,” he stated.
The plaintiff then went from pillar to post in search of witnesses, Justice Khosa said, but most of the time, none cooperated with him. “One comes and his complaint is registered, then a month and a half of the case is adjourned.”
The chief justice said a “world of a difference” was seen in the implementation of the above-mentioned changes. New report on PIC incident is regrettable and condemnable: CJP Khosa
He said other modalities were also attended, such as delays in the submission of challans, prisons that did not have the funds to transport prisoners and delays in writing a judgment.
Having paved the way for “no more excuses” from senior judges to session judges, Justice Khosa also spoke of proper scheduling. Previously, he said the senior judges would say they are required in cases of the High Court and the Supreme Court, and the effect would be an adjournment of session court cases.
“The lawyers are now sincerely focused on fixed deadlines only in certain situations,” he said.