The Lahore High Court Lahore being the oldest institution in Asia, has always taken initiative in redressing grievances of the public at large, battling human rights breaches, and addressing great questions of tomorrow. In the similar fashion, it has, lately, gone an extra mile helping ensure the speedy disposal of overseas Pakistani litigations through innumerable policy initiatives taken in this connection, including and not limited to marking of cases to special judges, setting a fixed time limit to conclude matters pending adjudications, operationalization of awareness outlets eg. "Sahulat Centre" (2016) so on and so forth. The importance of overseas Pakistanis can well be estimated by the fact that they are as much a citizen of Pakistan as anyone else is, and if report of Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development is something to go by about 7.6 million Pakistanis are living abroad and are a great source of funneling huge amount of remittances back home, constituting a substantial chunk of economic backbone of Pakistan. Therefore, annexing paramount importance to the question of overseas litigants, the recent giant leap, in this regard, has been a momentous decision taken by the Hon'ble Chief Justice Mr. Justice Sardar Muhammad Shamim Khan with reference to the establishment of an Overseas Pakistanis Cell-LHC, to operate under the supervision of a Director, Secretary and support staff for resolution of problems of Expatriate Pakistanis regarding the pendency of litigation in the largest Province of Pakistan i.e. Punjab.
A Special Bench, at the level of High Court, comprising Hon’ble Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan has also been constituted by the Hon’ble Chief Justice and nominated his lordship as notified Special Judge to deal with all the pending cases pertaining to overseas Pakistanis; besides adjudicating upon the matters falling within the purview of Recognition and Enforcement (Arbitration Agreement and Foreign Arbitral) Act, 2011, precisely under section 2(d) and 3, under a separate cause list.
It is worth mentioning here that Hon'ble Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, the then Hon'ble Chief Justice of this Court had also taken keen and practical interest in resolving problems of Overseas Pakistanis by holding series of meetings with the Governor, Punjab, Overseas Pakistanis Commission and other stake-holders to identify issues and find their solution. As a result of this, a window was opened for the Overseas Pakistanis in the already established "Sahulat Center" at the Directorate of District Judiciary.
The Cell shall take care of following aspects of the cases of Overseas Pakistanis:-
- Illegal possession of their properties in Punjab or any threats thereof;
- An inordinate delay in decision of cases;
- Frauds regarding properties purchased by them;
- Inability to pursue their court cases from abroad and hurdles in employing counsel;
- A webpage in the existing official website of Lahore High Court to be created for dissemination of objectives of the Cell, extending information to the overseas litigants regarding the current status of their cases and its functioning parameters;
- An online web portal to be developed to address the queries of the overseas litigants in this connection to the extent of Lahore High Court, Lahore. The Director and the Secretary of the Cell shall maintain a constant liaison and interaction with the Overseas Pakistani litigants in order to facilitate them. In this regard, IT Branch-LHC shall extend its complete support to the cell, whenever needed.
- The Overseas Pakistanis while visiting Pakistan may also in person approach the director or secretary of the cell to seek any kind of information or help, as the case may be. Their Counsels/Representatives/ Relatives living in Pakistan will also be facilitated accordingly at the cell regarding litigational issue.
- The Telephone help-line, in addition to the online facility, will also be established at the cell for the provision of speedy information;
- The complaints with regard to fixation or early disposal of their cases at Lahore High court will be redressed promptly by the Hon'ble Special Judge, nominated in this behalf in conjunction with the coordination of "OPC-LHC".