ISLAMABAD (TIP): Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) has set up a Sharia court in Lahore to dispense “speedy justice”, taking up citizens’ complaints and issuing summons carrying a warning of strict action in case of non-compliance, Dawn reported on April 7 .This is the first such parallel judicial system in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

The JuD, a front for banned Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), claimed the court only offers arbitration and resolves disputes in accordance with the Islamic judicial system, but failed to justify the summons.One of the defendants recently refused to appear, and has challenged the court’s authority, calling the summons is sued to him unconstitutional, the report said.

Complainants approach the arbitration court, in the heart of Pakistan, with the hope of speedy justice as litigation, especially in civil cases, is a lengthy and expensive process in the constitutional courts, sources said.

The court has been established at the organisation’s headquarters, Jamia Qadsia, Chauburji, under a Qazi (judge) assisted by Khadmins or court associates. “The complaints are addressed to the chief of the religious organisation who later refers them to the Qazi for further proceedings,” the report said.

The report claimed that JuD’s “Arbitration Court of Sharia” has been summoning defendants in person or through a legal counsel with war nings of strict action under the Sharia laws in case of no response. The summons bear two monograms Darul Qaza Sharia, Jamatud Dawa Pakistan and Saalsi Sharai Adalati-Aalia or the arbitration court of Sharia. Earlier, Sharia courts were established in Kyber Pakhtaunkhawa province by pro-Taliban groups. JuD’s spokesperson Yahya Mujahid said that it was not a parallel system to the constitutional courts of the country .”It is an arbitration court to decide disputes with the consent of the parties,” Mujahid was quoted as saying.

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He further said that disputes have been resolved in accordance with Islamic laws, and that offering arbitration to confronting parties is not illegal. He, however, failed to justify issuance of summons carrying a warning of strict action in case of non-compliance.

In one such case regarding a monetary dispute between two property developers, according to Dawn’s report, the Sharia Court has been issuing summons to the defendant, who has not appeared before the Qazi so far. He has written letters to judicial and executive authorities, including chief justice of Pakistan and prime minister, complaining about the unconstitutional summons being issued to him by the religious organisation, the report said. “The letters are yet to be answered whereas the JuD spokesman offers no explanation to the practice of serving summons,” it said.

DIG Haider Ashraf denied having any knowledge about the Sharia Court or any complaint against it. “The police will take action if they received any complaint as the law did not allow any parallel judicial system,” he reportedly said. The JuD claims rendering social welfare services besides running charitable schools and hospitals in calamityhit regions of the country.

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