PESHAWAR: Experts in a panel discussion in Badloon programme of TNN urged the need for shifting the newly appointed judges for the tribal areas inside the merged areas to facilitate the people.

Eminent lawyer Waqas Shinwari, Tribal Youth Movement leader Khial Zaman Orakzai and Khwendo Kor official Lubna Haye took part in the panel discussion coordinated by Iftikhar Khan on pros and cons of the establishment of courts and appointment of judges for the tribal districts.

Waqas Shinwari said the appointment of 28 judges for the tribal districts has a huge impact.

“Only in the last one week, 10 litigants from Bara, Landikotal and Jamrud have got relief from courts. Under the previous system of FCR, people had to run from pillar to post to get relief and often they had to look for references up to the level of MNA for securing release of innocent people. Now the people hire a lawyer, who approaches the court to get relief for them. I have copies of the cases in which innocent people, who were in prison due to improper investigation, have been released now by the courts on bail,” he said.

The legal expert said so many people are approaching the courts even beyond our expectations which depicts trust of the tribal people on the new judicial system.

Lubna Haye said the tribal women were earlier suppressed and they had no idea where to go to get justice.

“We lived in a patriarchal culture where women had no voice. Even with little education and awareness, the tribal women are very brave and capable of doing anything. Tribal courts will certainly go a long way if they get a window of opportunity,” she said.

She said if the number of civil judges is increased, then sessions judges will hear high-level and appeal-level cases. Cases of small nature need more civil judges for their quick disposal. Family courts are also needed to resolve cases related to women.

Women literacy rate in the tribal districts is very low and they also don’t have much awareness about tribal issues. From your platform, they will at least know that now judges are available for them and they can raise voice for their rights. Males had their property and other disputes resolved through Jirga of FCR, but women had no such facility. Now the courts will hear the cases about child marriages, share of women in inheritance and their other rights,” she said.

The rights activist said dispute resolution councils (DRCs) will greatly benefit the tribal people.

“One good thing is that one member of DRC must be a woman so women will find it easier to interact with them. Hiring of a lawyer will not be required for DRCs. There are many poor people who cannot afford to hire a lawyer to plead their case in the court. DRCs will provide quick relief to people at their doorsteps. It will also reduce burden on courts,” she said.

Khial Zaman Orakzai said the tribal people now enjoy the right to reason and appeal. He said currently the judges for tribal districts are serving outside in the adjoining settled areas e.g. the judges of Bajaur are sitting in Timergara, Parachinar judges are sitting in Thall and Orakzai judges are sitting in Hangu.

“First of all, judicial complexes must be built inside the Fata area and judges must perform their duties in these judicial complexes. The government must send lawyers and judges to the tribal districts to hold awareness sessions for the local population and give them knowledge about their rights,” he said.

The youth movement leader said sessions judges are enough at this time, but the number of civil judges will have to be increased.

“It’s just the beginning of the new judicial system. Special courts will be established for tribal districts once people get familiar with the judicial system in a year or two. It will be followed by establishment of family courts, consumer courts, tax courts, custom courts, etc. I am also expecting the formation of a Fata bench of the PHC in future,” he said.

Khial Zaman said the cases previously pending with the APAs have automatically shifted to the tribal courts and lists of these cases have also been displayed.

“Notices have also been sent to the parties to the cases to hire lawyers and they have also been informed about the new details of their cases. As far as the decided cases are concerned, if there is any illegality in the verdict then that might be taken up by the courts, otherwise, they will stay where they are,” he said.

Khial Zaman said judges performing duties outside the tribal districts must be brought inside the tribal jurisdiction. Secondly, he said, the lawyers should also open their offices in tribal districts.

“After completion of hearing of cases in settled areas, the lawyers should visit their offices in tribal areas in the evening time to facilitate the local people,” he said.