Crime & Justice

Dispute Resolution Councils bring system of arbitration to tribal districts

By Javed Khan

A Dispute Resolution Council in Peshawar hears arguments from parties on January 7. The DRCs are now appearing in the erstwhile FATA. [Javed Khan]

A Dispute Resolution Council in Peshawar hears arguments from parties on January 7. The DRCs are now appearing in the erstwhile FATA. [Javed Khan]

PESHAWAR -- Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is planning to establish Dispute Resolution Councils (DRCs) in the newly merged tribal districts.

"Apart from setting up a DRC in the tribal Khyber District, we are setting up two more DRCs in Peshawar," Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Peshawar Mohammad Ali Gandapur said January 5.

The DRCs, established to end blood feuds and conflict across KP, received a total of 7,089 cases in 2019. The councils resolved 5,273 cases and sent 1,266 to other relevant forums, with the remainder still being processed.

DRCs will be helpful in ending blood feuds and stopping murders in rural areas, Gandapur said, adding that "the [DRCs] have been doing an excellent job in all the districts of KP since they were set up."

"After the success of DRCs, we are extending it to the erstwhile FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]," said outgoing Inspector General of Police (IGP) KP Mohammad Naeem Khan.

The process of setting up DRCs in all the newly merged districts will be completed expeditiously, he said. Initially, the KP government will set up one DRC in every tribal district to provide a forum for Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR), namely, a means for settling a dispute outside a courtroom.

That more parties are approaching the DRCs to settle their disputes shows the trust they command from residents, he said.

The first DRC was set up in January 2014 at the Gulbahar police station in Peshawar before more DRCs began operating in other districts.

"I approached the DRC in Gulbahar Peshawar when some local criminals wanted to occupy our land," said Bahader Khan, a resident of suburban Peshawar.

The DRC continued hearing the case for seven months, sent teams to the location in question and checked records.

"After the hearings and checking all the records, it ruled in our favour... directing the concerned police to take action if the rivals wanted to commit any criminal act," said Khan

A jirga-based system

"There are four DRCs each in Swabi, Mardan, Nowshera and Swat, while there are three each in Peshawar, Charsadda and Chitral," said Kokab Farooq, a spokesman for the KP Police, adding that the rest of the districts have one DRC each.

"DRCs are a replica of the jirga system, which already has roots in the tribal districts and other parts of KP," said Farooq.

There were times when even banned groups such as Lashkar-e-Islam, led by Mangal Bagh, used to decide disputes between the individuals or groups since the tribal areas had no court system, he said.

Now the DRCs will provide an alternate manner for locals to settle their disputes at a forum having legal support, he said.

"Some people went to the banned groups for ADR, which was not right," said Islam Afridi, a university graduate from Khyber District.

"Now, they will have bodies with legal cover to settle disputes through ADR or an official jirga," he said.

The DRCs will be more successful in the erstwhile FATA since they have roots in the familiar jirga system, he added. "The only thing that needs to be done is to induct clean and competent people in the DRCs so they can do justice to their job."

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Where is Arbitrary committee in Nowshehra and what is the procedure?