Iftikhar Khan

PESHAWAR: The Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) law introduced by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to resolve disputes in merged tribal districts through tribal Jirgas has been challenged in the Peshawar High Court (PHC).

Muhammad Irshad Advocate, a lawyer from Mohmand tribal district, has challenged the law arguing that it is against the basic human rights and principles of law and justice.

Muhammad Irshad Advocate said while talking to TNN that some government members along with bureaucracy have virtually revived the old FCR (Frontier Crime Regulations) system in merged districts by introducing ADR rules. He was hopeful that the PHC will soon nullify the law which has created a parallel judicial system in the merged districts.

What is ADR system?

The ADR rules framed after amendment to the KP Local Government Act provide for formation of reconciliation committees each comprising up to 40 members – 30 from different tribes and 10 from the administration. In case of arrival of any civil case with the reconciliatory committee, the concerned deputy commissioner will set up a Jirga of three or four elders according to his own discretion to resolve the dispute and parties to the dispute will have no say in formation of the Jirga. In case of any objection on the Jirga verdict, the parties to conflict can approach the assistant commissioner or deputy commissioner with an appeal within one month. The decision of the deputy commissioner will be final and will not be challengeable in any court.

Why ADR rules are being opposed?

Muhammad Irshad Advocate told TNN that ADR rules are against five articles of the Constitution including Articles 08, 10, 175, 203 and 02-A on the basis of which he has approached the PHC. He said Article 08 provides that no law will be formed which is against basic human rights. He argued that ADR rules don’t fulfil requirements of justice, hence it is against the basic human rights.

The lawyer from Mohmand said the ADR committees only record statements of parties to conflict and don’t do cross-questioning and don’t even call evidences, which is against Article 10-A which provides for fair trial. He further explained that Article 175 provides for separation of judicial and executive powers. He said the assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner are given judicial powers in the ADR rules which is against the Constitution. He said Article 203 states that all the courts will function under the High Court. He said after extension of PHC jurisdiction to tribal districts, the courts in the area must also function under the High Court. However, he said the reconciliatory Jirgas under the ADR are not under the High Court.

The lawyer said Article 2-A says all the courts will be independent and autonomous, but the ADR rules have brought such a system which tantamount to damaging the independence of judiciary. He said the ADR rules are unclear as to how a citizen will choose between the court and Jirga for pursuing his case.

Ijaz Mohmand, another lawyer from Mohmand district, said while talking to TNN that ADR system is replica of FCR. He said a particular group in bureaucracy is against the merger from the very beginning and they were trying to bring back FCR system in which they had absolute authority. He hoped that vested interest trying to revive old system in tribal districts for personal gains will bite the dust and the PHC will nullify the ADR rules.