By Amjad Javaid Hashmi Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan
Today’s global constitutional legal framework universally agrees on establishing a set of institutional entities responsible for providing seamless services to the common citizen, often referred to as the political king of our times, across all facets of life. These institutional servants are the Legislature, Executive, and Judiciary. The Legislature embodies the essence of service to the king, while the Executive materializes these perceived services. In contrast, the Judiciary resolves disputes concerning the perceived services between the king and the executive. The ultimate objective of such state governance, focusing on self-governance rather than the typical governance, is to enhance the common man’s life tomorrow compared to his yesterday, hence emphasizing the concept of Accountability.
Aligned with the aforementioned legal framework, accountability encompasses three corresponding dimensions. Legislative accountability is evident when the common man votes for or against unfavorable policies. Executive accountability is an ongoing process involving complaints, whistleblowing, and questioning maladministration. Judicial accountability surfaces when a judge is removed from their position due to misconduct in delivering justice services.
At every level of accountability, the sense of dignity, self-respect, and self-assurance of the common man, acting as a political king, holds significant importance in triggering and achieving effective accountability of individuals or institutions that err. Without this attitudinal awakening among the common populace, all other efforts in any political system become futile.
Moving towards the attitudinal framework of executive accountability, which is the focal point in any jurisdiction, three prerequisites come into play. Transparency is crucial; it’s the common man’s right to know the necessary documentation for seeking a particular service. Predictability is equally vital, encompassing the common man’s right to understand the processing time and the date of delivery of any public service document applied for. Accountability is the logical sequence that holds the negligent public functionaries accountable under public scrutiny. Where administrative inertia persists, the common man retains the option to seek judicial review, at public expense, in appropriate cases.
In essence, accountability originates from the core of a citizenry’s dignity and self-respect, catalyzing and refining the quality of service delivery by all three institutional servants—legislature, executive, and judiciary—with a strong emphasis on the values of care, compassion, and concern for a better tomorrow for the common man. Governance in the third world continues to lack these values, while in contrast, the citizenry of the First World is elevating the bar on a daily basis, emphasizing these values of concern, care, and compassion.