Pakistan Judicial System In Need Of Reforms

Posted on July 27, 2015

Corrupt judicial system is not a nascent phenomenon; it has always plagued the country since its inception.

According to the Transparency International Pakistan’s National Corruption Perception Survey 2011, corruption in the judiciary has grown in recent years. The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 reports that almost half of the surveyed households perceive the judiciary to be ‘corrupt’ or ‘extremely corrupt’.

Lower courts remain corrupt, inefficient and subject to pressure from prominent wealthy, religious and political figures, as noted in the Investment Climate Statement 2013. Furthermore, there were reports of small-scale facilitation payments requested by court staff. The Transformation Index 2012 further reports that the general public has little faith in the legal system, for corruption and bureaucracy are rampant in the system.

Business Corruption

Freedom in the World 2013 reports that the judiciary in Pakistan is regarded as one of the institutions most plagued by corruption, particularly in relation to the lower courts. Furthermore, business executives surveyed in the Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 indicate that the judiciary is subject to political influences of members of government, citizens and companies. Hence, companies should take note that contract enforcement can be problematic due to an inefficient court system and a lack of transparency, as reported in the Investment Climate Statement 2013. According to a paper published in 2010 in the Pakistan Economic Social and Review, corruption in the judiciary has the ability in Pakistan to frighten off domestic and foreign investments due to fear of usurpation or misappropriation.

Political Corruption

The Transformation Index 2014 reports that political interference is often found in the legislative and judicial branches of Pakistan. Law formation usually bypasses Parliament, and the higher courts have often been influenced by politically motivated judgements. The procedure for selecting national-level judges is required to be transparent by law; however, according to Global Integrity 2010, the selection procedure is not always transparent in practice. In order to improve transparency in the selection process, the 19th Constitutional Amendment was passed by the National Assembly in December 2010 to further strengthen not only the role of the chief justice and other senior judges in the Judicial Commission but also the procedure of appointing judges, as reported in Freedom in the World 2013.


The World Bank and FC: Doing Business 2014:
– On average, enforcing a commercial contract requires a company to go through 46 procedures, taking 976 days and costing 24% of the claim.

Transparency International: Global Corruption Barometer 2013:
– 45% of households surveyed consider the judiciary to be ‘corrupt’ or ‘extremely corrupt’.

– Citizens give the judiciary a score of 3.6 on a 5-point scale (1 being ‘not at all corrupt’ and 5 ‘extremely corrupt’)

World Economic Forum: The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014:
– Business executives give the independence of the Pakistani judiciary from influences of members of government, citizens or companies a score of 4.1 on a 7-point scale (1 being ‘heavily influenced’ and 7 ‘entirely independent’).

– Business executives give the efficiency of the legal framework for private companies to settle disputes and to challenge the legality of government actions and/or regulations a score of 3.1 and 3.0, respectively, on a 7-point scale (1 being ‘extremely inefficient’ and 7 ‘highly efficient’).

Transparency International Pakistan: National Corruption Perception Survey 2011:
– 46% of household respondents who interacted with the judiciary felt compelled to pay a bribe in 2011.

Pakistan judicial system must be made free from corruption and independent of political interference.
Dr Ali Ahmad
Email: [email protected]