This section provides you with a starting-point for your own research into the law in Pakistan, from finding out how a law is created in Parliament to understanding the many different courts and tribunals and how they interact. If you need to find some legal advice, or you're interested in finding out how to make your own community safer, this section has information on those areas too.
COURTS & TRIBUNALS
There are many different courts and tribunals in Pakistan. Each one is an independent body that works to interpret the law and work out compensation and penalties (like fines or imprisonment).
Each court or tribunal deals with different kinds of laws or disputes. They can also work together to come to a final decision. Sometimes a decision made by one court or tribunal is reconsidered in another court or tribunal.
Judiciary of Pakistan
- Superior Judiciary
- District & Sessions Courts
The District Courts of Pakistan are courts that operate at the district level, they are controlled by the high courts. District courts exist in every district of each province, with civil and criminal jurisdiction. In each District Headquarters, there are numerous Additional District & Session Judges who usually preside the courts. District & sessions Judge has executive and judicial power all over the district under his jurisdiction. Session court is also a trial court for heinous offences such as Murder, Rape (Zina), Haraba offences (armed robbery where specific amount of gold and cash is involved, it is also appelatte court for summary conviction offences and civil suits of lesser value. Each Town and city now has a court of Additional District & Sessions judge, which possesses the equal authority over, under its jurisdiction. When it is hearing criminal cases it is called sessions court and when it is hearing civil cases it becomes District court. Executive matters are brought before the relevant District & Sessions Judge.
- Civil Judge cum Judicial Magistrates' Courts
In every town and city, there are numerous Civil and Judicial Magistrates' Courts. A Magistrate with the powers of section 30 of Criminal Procedure Code (Cr.P.C.) has the jurisdiction to hear all criminal matters other than those which carry the death penalty (such as attempted murder, dacoity, robbery, extortion, etc.), but may only pass a sentence of up to seven years' imprisonment. If the court thinks accused deserves more punishment than seven years in jail, then it has to refer the matter to a higher court, with its recommendations to that effect. Every Magistrates' Court is allocated a local jurisdiction, usually encompassing one or more Police Stations in the area. Trial of all non bailable offences, including police remand notices, accused discharges, arrest and search warrants, and bail applications, are heard and decided by Magistrate Courts. Most Judicial Magistrates may hear civil suits as well. If they do so, they are usually called a Civil Judge Cum Judicial Magistrate. These Courts are also called as Senior Civil Judge Courts, who are empowered with the power of Judicial Magistrate as well.
- Special Tribunals and Boards
There are numerous special tribunals such as;
- Banking Courts
- Custom Courts
- Drug Courts
- Federal Services Tribunal
- Provincial Services Tribunals (one for each province)
- Income Tax Tribunals
- Anti Corruption Courts
- Anti Terrorism Courts
- Labour Courts
- Labour Appellate Tribunal
- Environmental Courts
- Board of Revenue.
- Special Magistrate courts
- Control of Narcotic Substances (Special Courts)
- Consumer Courts –
- Intellectual Property Tribunal
- Foreign Exchange Appellate Board
Almost all judges of above mentioned courts and tribunals except for Consumer Courts, are of District & sessions Judges or of having same qualifications. Besides, there exist revenue courts, operating under the West Pakistan Land Revenue Act 1967. The revenue courts may be classified as the Board of Revenue, the Commissioner, the Collector, the Assistant Collector of the First Grade and Second Grade. The provincial government that exercise administrative control over them appoints such officers. Law prescribes their powers and functions.
- Family Courts
The West Pakistan Family Courts Act 1964 governs the jurisdiction of Family Courts. These courts have exclusive jurisdiction over matters relating to personal status. Appeals from the Family Courts lie with the High Court, where the Family Court is presided by a District Judge, an Additional District Judge, or a person notified by the Government to be the rank and status of a District Judge or an Additional District Judge and to the District Court, in any other case. Every town and city or Tehsil has court of family judge. In some areas, where it is only Family Court but in most areas Civil Judge Courts have been granted the powers of Family Court Judges. According to section 17 of the Family Court Act, 1964, the provisions of C.P.C. (Civil Procedure Code) and Qanun-e-Shahdat Order (Evidence Law) are not applicable over to Family Court and the same are allowed to form or regulate its own procedure to decide case expeditiously, properly and in the best interest and convenience of lady litigants.
- Juvenile Courts
Section 4 of the JJSO authorizes the Provincial Government to establish one or more juvenile courts for any local area within its jurisdiction, in consultation with the Chief Justice of the high court. Ten years have passed, and not a single such court has been established; and instead the High Courts have been conferring status of the juvenile courts on the existing courts. The High Courts cannot be doing this on their own, and must be instructed by the provincial governments to do so. In this era of independent judiciary, the High Courts should standup against the governments on this issue and refuse to confer powers on the already over-burdened courts and instead should insist upon establishing exclusive juvenile courts.
Section 6 of the JJSO prescribes special procedure for the juvenile courts which involves issues like not ordinarily taking up any other case on a day when the case of a child accused is fixed for evidence on such day; attendance of only specified persons in the court; and dispensing with the attendance of the child in the trial.