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Pakistan: Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Establishes Mobile Courts

(Aug. 5, 2013) On July 28, 2013, Peshawar High Court (PHC) Chief Justice Dost Mohammad Khan inaugurated the establishment of mobile courts in the northern Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) to hear civil and criminal disputes. The courts are intended to provide “justice at the doorsteps of people.” (Mobile Court Inaugurated: ‘State Bound to Provide Justice,’ DAWN.COM (July 28, 2013).)

During the inaugural speech, the High Court Chief Justice made a reference to article 37(c) of Pakistan’s Constitution, which requires the state, as a principle of state policy, to ensure expeditious and inexpensive justice. He felt that “the state institutions never paid serious attention to this constitutional obligation.” (Id.) He also asserted that “[t]he inability of masses to bring their disputes to the courts due to a number of reasons, including the cost of litigation, lack of resources and cumbersome legal procedure, has prompted us to establish mobile courts and provide quick and inexpensive justice to poor people.” (Id.)

The KPK government is planning to establish eleven mobile courts in the province, including “four in Peshawar, three in Malakand Division, two in Hazara Division and two in other districts.” (Justice on the Wheels in KP, DAILY TIMES (July 28, 2013).) Currently, eight judicial officers and sixteen lawyers have been trained to run the mobile courts. (Mobile Court Inaugurated: ‘State Bound to Provide Justice,’ supra.) The judicial officers and other court officials would “hold sittings at town/union councils/police stations or other places specified by the high court on rotation basis as may be directed by the district judge.” (Waseem Ahmad Shah, Govt Indifference Delays Setting Up of Mobile Courts, DAILY TIMES (June 4, 2012).)

The authority of the High Court to set the places where the courts can sit and the authority of the district/sessions court to distribute cases to mobile courts are conferred pursuant to Pakistan’s Code of Criminal Procedure and the Civil Courts Ordinance, as indicated by two notifications issued on July 26, 2013. (Peshawar High Court Notifications, Nos. 119J & 120J (July 26, 2013), Peshawar High Court website.)