Pakistan passes bill giving legal cover to jirgas, panchayat courts

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Islamabad | Published: February 4, 2017 12:08:55 AM

Pakistan's National Assembly HAS passed a bill giving legal and constitutional cover to the centuries old jirga and panchayat systems in the country in a bid to ensure speedy resolution of petty civil matters.

The bill called Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bill-2016 was passed by National Assembly, the lower House of the bicameral Parliament. (Reuters) The bill called Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bill-2016 was passed by National Assembly, the lower House of the bicameral Parliament. (Reuters)

Pakistan’s National Assembly HAS passed a bill giving legal and constitutional cover to the centuries old jirga and panchayat systems in the country in a bid to ensure speedy resolution of petty civil matters and reduce the burden of litigations on the courts.

The bill called Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) Bill-2016 was passed by National Assembly, the lower House of the bicameral parliament.

Law Minister Zahid Hamid tabled the bill in the House and was adopted despite opposition by Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Hamid said during the debate that the ADR system will settle 23 types of civil and criminal disputes.

The government under the ADR system will appoint mediators, who will be called “Neutrals” to settle various disputes.

“Under the system the government will appoint panels of ‘Neutrals’ in all districts in consultation with the relevant high courts and the courts will appoint them as mediators in different disputes,” Hamid said.

According to the Law Minister, there will be no punishment in the disputes to be settled by the ADR system, as the law was criticised by the women members of the parliament.

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“The dispute will be settled with consent of both parties in the dispute and if any woman feels that she is not being given justice, she can move the court,” he said.
Neutrals will be appointed by the government in each district in consultation with the high court.

They will include lawyers, retired judges of superior and subordinate judiciary, retired civil servants, social workers, religious scholars, jurists, technocrats and similar other experts of repute and integrity.

The law will be immediately implemented in the federal capital and later expanded to provinces after consultation.

The law effectively legalises the Jirga system which often came under scanner for anti-women decisions.

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