Justice Delayed is Justice Denied: Covey's First Habit Advice to Chief Justice of Pakistan

[To understand the context of this post, please read At What Cost! Why Compute Economic Costs of Faulty Political Decisions]

What is the advice for Chief Justice of Pakistan(CJP) from Covey’s First Habit of Highly Effective People: CJP ought to work on his circle of influence, instead of his circle of concern, by focusing on speeding up the judiciary’s process of dispensation of justice. Justice delayed is justice denied. If CJP succeeds in reducing the average time of court cases, he would have effectively extended his “circle of influence” to encompass majority of zillions of issues which are currently in his “circle of concern” as shown in the figure. However, he can not extend his circle of influence without working on his circle of control i.e. session courts,  high courts and SC. Ignoring the circle of influence and control makes his attempts to address the myriad of issues in his circle of concern, resemble more like “tilting at the windmills” by Cervantes’ Don Quixote [1].

Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People 

Covey’s 7 Habits book is among the three most influential leadership books of 20th century. It has been read, and implemented extensively. The first habit explains how to concentrate on circle of influence and expand it by continuing to invest and add value to the things that are in our control and under our influence, so that our circle of influence expands and can then encompass many of the concerns that initially were not in our circle of influence. Things in the circle of concern can become part of the circle of influence by expanding our circle of influence. 

Baba Rehmatay’s Focus on Circle of Control: Reactive Focus

Currently, Baba Rehmatay seemed to be caught in the reactive focus. His behavior and irritation which is evident from his instinctive snap judgments indicate that he is not living in his circle of influence and control. His irritation indicates that despite his best efforts, the outcomes he expected are not materializing. The fundamental reason as per Covey is that he has not focused on his sphere of influence and control. His primary mandate is speedy dispensation of justice for around 1.8 million cases pending in the courts (justice delayed is justice denied). Had he focused on their fast and speedy disposal, he would have initiated a massive change management project in the operations of courts. The process outcomes should have resulted in a marked speedup of judgments within a few months. The speed of justice in itself would have instilled fear in the hearts of corrupt and many of the problems that he is trying to focus, which are in his area of concern, would have been solved.

However, instead of focusing on his circle of influence and control (i.e. the courts), he started using sou-motto powers to focus on issues lying in his circle of concern. There is no doubt that there are zillions of issues in Pakistan that need addressing and need addressing urgently, such as sugarcane prices, water quality, drugs control, garbage disposal, unhealthy salts, adulterated food, schools, universities, medical colleges etc. Wielding the raw sword of sou-motto, Baba Rehmatay is stretching his jurisdiction to bring those issues under his control which are typically the focus of executive. However, large organizations and institutions, especially the government, can not be changed overnight through snap sou-motto judgments. CJP can not improve the standards of schools, universities and medical colleges through his judgments. Only school/university authorities can do that, and only if they do that systematically and willingly through a motivational buy-in. And getting to that is a long term process. The more he tries to focus in the circle of concern, the more he becomes political and controversial. People are now openly asking him to become chief executive by imposing judicial martial law. See references to his sou-motto judgments in  Baba Rehmatay: From Chief Justice to Chief Executive?

Focusing on Circle of Concern is like Tilting at the Windmills

Ignoring the circle of influence and control makes his attempts to address the myriad of issues in his circle of concern, resemble more like “tilting at the windmills” by Cervantes’ Don Quixote.  Each wing of the windmill representing some of the zillion issues, with DoN Quixote’s raw sword of sou-motto aided by the lure of likely “beneficial” consequences, often called a “great right” (Justice Khosa) or Doctrine of Necessity (CJ Munir).

Focusing on Circle of Concern without Mastering the Circle of Influence

 Why CJP could not expedite the speed of court judgments?

In his interview with Javed Chaudhry (Daily Express March 22, 2018), CJP lamented on his inability to expedite the speed of court judgments. The excerpt is given below.

Currently there are around 1.8 million court cases languishing in session courts, high courts and supreme court [2]. Justice delayed is justice denied. But, his impatience is making him lose the sight of this primary responsibility. 

Change Management Expertise Required for Speeding up Justice in Pakistan.

From my 23 years experience in change management in teaching, execution and bringing about change in organizations and people through leadership, and empathizing with his apparent despair in improving the speed of court cases, I can safely say that:
1. Baba Rehmatay needs experience of “change management” and exposure of a course in change management, especially of large complex organizations such as the government machinery.
2. By his own admission,  Baba Rehmatay has failed in bringing about substantial change (increase) in the speed of case disposal by HC. Simple reason is that he is a judge (and hence judgmental) and he is not a change manager. The two roles (judge and change manager) require skills and attitude that are antithesis of each other and he needs to appreciate the difference, if he has to succeed.

If (1) and (2) are true, then he will soon realize that he has been instrumental in destroying the Constitution like CJP Munir and his impatience. His dream to be remembered as Justice AR Cornelius or Justice Hamoodur Rehman as in the above interview, can safely be predicted to be turning into a nightmare.

Baba Rehmatay knows about the balance of trichotony of powers from a legal point of view. However, he needs to appreciate from a management and systems engineering point of view why executive, parliament and Judiciary are three corners of a triangle that must evolve during a change management process. They can’t be evolved through arbitrary decisions. Each must evolve in their capacity and maturity in tandem.


[1] Don Quixote – Wikipedia

See also: 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *