ISLAMABAD: (APP) Attorney General of Pakistan Ashtar Ausaf Ali on Monday called for structural changes in the legal system and reduction in "countless judicial tiers" to ensure easy access to justice for the average citizen.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of New Judicial Year held at Supreme Court building, he said, "When we look around us at the challenges to lawyers and judges within the legal system , we are gripped with dread."
"We see the piles of undecided cases pending for decades, we hear the tremor in an advocate's voice arguing a case he has neither prepared nor understood and we feel the anguish of the average citizen over laws that are complex and elusive for justice.
It is time we turn this around. As I related to the Supreme Court Bar Association earlier this year, several initiatives are being taken to broaden that most fundamental of needs - easy access to justice."
He said there was need to bring about structural changes, most especially when it comes to matters of practice and procedure.
"We also need to reduce our countless judicial tiers , and intermingling of judicial offices."
Ashtar Ausaf said he believed that there was a need to create a new Legal Service of Pakistan and raise standards of legal education.
Centres of continuing legal education need to be established to serve as an incubating ground for incoming talent at all levels of the legal sphere, he said adding, "each and every one of these initiatives address the most obvious of our challenges: delay in the system and by extension ensuring that the ends of justice are met."
He said while looking to broader aspirations for the legal and constitutional literacy of each citizen, as is their right, the government is ensuring that there are translations of statutes and all major laws - as well as legal issues of public interest – into Urdu and regional languages for greater awareness.
"We hope that the cumulative effect of these initiatives will be greater than their various parts, but as both the government and the bar have understood there is far more work to be done and it pertains to ourselves."
"When we dream together of a new legal order, we must realize it is premised on a dialogue together - a conversation with all stakeholders. It is time we established a mechanism of institutional dialogue; to bring about the sort of exchange of ideas that can transform our justice delivery system."
The Attorney General observed, "So far we have not yet begun the business of exchange of ideas."
He regretted that there was no great conversation and no concept of a meaningful dialogue between the three great pillars of the state.
"We need to know that a free exchange of ideas can never compromise the independence or separation of state institutions - rather it can only develop a greater understanding of themselves and each other.
Let us commence the year with this initiative: round table seminar where law enforcers, investigators and prosecutors sit side by side with judges, jail officials and the various functionaries that comprise our legal system ."
"For too long, we have cocooned ourselves from one another, it is time now for a collective soul-search to put together concrete benchmarks for ensuring a vibrant, expeditious and above all accessible justice system," Ashtar Ausaf added.