Thursday, September 9, 2010
Book review: Access to justice in Pakistan
I have this habit of skimming any new book that I come across instead of checking the index or reading its preface. Many of my friends have ridiculed me when I do it at a book fair. I also skimmed through various chapters of this book with dreary eyes before crashing on the bed.
The book is written in an astonishing simple language - something very rare in this part of the Subcontinent and rarest when it comes to law. Almost all law books are written with obsolete vocabulary, but this book is an exception. Each chapter of this book is independent of the other. No matter in which order you read this book, every chapter makes sense in the context of every other chapter.
The book has many chapters but it can be divided into three parts. First is introductory, second deals with criminal law and the third relates to civil litigation.
My dad's colleague and now a judge of high court once told me that everything thing in Pakistani law is written somewhere and you have to find where it is. I took his comment lightly but reading the book made me realise that he was correct. The book tells the reader about all the procedure practiced in the courts and the statutes which deal with it.
This book contains everything a lawyer needs to know and is the result of years of hard work of the writer.
The book is equally good for lawyers, journalists, law students and litigants. The beauty of simple language, detailed research, quoting of case law makes this book a ready tool for everyone even remotely connected with the law.
Now something about the writer. Fazal Karim has a very humble background. He belongs from a Jatt family of Jhelum. Education and Jatts are like water and crude oil as they can never mix. Fazal Karim started his career as a stenographer to the district judge of Jhelum and ended as being the judge of the Supreme Court. He has remained honest throughout his career.
I didn't know that he was from Jhelum until I read almost half of the book. I asked my father about him. My dad told about Karim's honesty, quoting a former colleague of the retired justice. The justice was an introvert person. All of his colleagues were neck deep in taking bribes.
They would buy milk and some bakery items from the money pooled from their daily bribes and would feast on it the whole day, but Karim would not join them. He would not even sit with them in his spare time. He was seen either doing his official work or reading some book in spare time.
I can safely assume that he did his LLB during his clerical job and joined the judiciary at its lowest tier. His hard work and quest to learn took him all the way to the Supreme Court of Pakistan. No other judge of the superior courts has such a humble beginning.
The Book is published by Pakistan Law House. The cover price is Rs 1,200. The publisher sells it for Rs 800.