(Note:The following is an extract from the famous letter written by Imam Ali (AS) to Maalik al-Ashtar governor of Egypt. In this part of the letter Hazrat Ali (AS) is instructing Maalik; about the criteria upon which the judges should be appointed and set of laws they should abide by.)
As far as dispensing of justice is concerned, you have to be very careful in selecting officers for the same. You must select people of excellent character and high caliber and with meritorious records. They must possess the following qualifications: Abundance of litigations and complexity of cases should not make them lose their temper.
When they realize that they have committed a mistake in judgment they should not insist on it by trying to justify it. When truth is made clear to them or when the right path opens up before them, they should not consider it below their dignity to correct the mistake made or to undo the wrong done by them. They should not be corrupt, covetous or greedy. They should not be satisfied with ordinary enquiry or scrutiny of a case, but should scrupulously go through all the pros and cons, they must examine every aspect of the problem carefully, and whenever and wherever they find doubtful and ambiguous points, they must stop, go through further details, clear the points, and only then proceed with their decisions. They must attach the greatest importance to reasoning, arguments and proofs. They should not get tired of lengthy discussions and arguments. They must exhibit patience and perseverance in scanning the details, in testing the points presented as true, in sifting facts from fiction and when truth is revealed to them they must pass their judgments without fear, favor or prejudice.
They should not develop vanity and conceit when compliments and praises are showered upon them. They should not be mislead by flattery and cajolery. But unfortunately they are few persons having such characteristics. After you have selected such men to act as your judges, make it a point to go through some of their judgements and to check their proceedings. Pay them handsomely so that their needs are fully satisfied and they are not required to beg or borrow or resort to corruption. Give them such a prestige and position in your State that none of your courtiers or officers can overlord them or bring harm to them. Let judiciary be above every kind of executive pressure or influence, above fear or favour, intrigue or corruption. Take every particular care of this aspect because before your appointment this State was under the sway of corrupt, time-serving and wealth-grasping opportunists who were lewd, greedy and vicious and who wanted nothing out of a State but a sinful consent of amassing wealth and pleasures for themselves.