ISLAMABAD: While judiciary under Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has expanded the ambit of its jurisdiction far and wide, the sluggish pace of litigation at Islamabad’s district courts still remains the reality many people have to live with on daily basis.
In the year 2017, Islamabad District Courts which are bifurcated in east and west jurisdictions had an alarming rate of pending cases issue. According to official documents, copy available with Pakistan Today, the district judiciary east started the year 2017 with a total of 11,864 pending cases. While 2,3562 cases were instituted during 2017 bringing the total pendency for the year to 35,426.
The disposal of cases instituted during the year 2017 stood at 14,502 while the disposal of cases instituted during previous years was 6,515. According to documents, total disposal of cases during past year was 21,017. The cases pending for more than one year stands at 5349.
The district judiciary west, on the other hand, fared little different with a total of pending cases in 2017 clocked at 19,323. While 52,804 cases were instituted during 2017, at the end of 2017 the total pendency stood at 72,127. The disposal of cases instituted during the year 2017 stood at 43,080 while the disposal of cases instituted during previous years was 5,774.
According to documents total disposal of cases during past year was 48,854. The cases pending for more than one year stands at 13,549.
Islamabad District Courts east and west succeeded in keeping the balance of instituted cases and disposed off a total of 19,661 cases during the year 2016, in the same year 20,511 cases of both civil and criminal nature were instituted in the courts. However, the number of backlogged cases still stands over 30,000.
In the light of above dismal statistics, Pakistan Today asked litigants, lawyers and court officials about the reasons behind such long duration and how the whole process could be streamlined for swift decisions.
Ahmed Malik, a litigant whose dispute of family land has been ongoing for past decade, regretted the seriousness of lawyers and absence of interest by judges to resolve the cases. “The opposing party’s lawyer does not even bother to attend the hearings and the court gives us a date for later hearing. I ask CJP to kindly take notice and address this evil as soon as possible,” Malik said.
Advocate Nasrullah Shah said that in order to quickly dispose off the cases more judges and staff is needed. “With less than sanctioned strength of judges in both District Court east and west, the pendency is immense. There are instances when a single judge has to hear 50, 55 cases in a single day. An increase in judges and managing cases in an efficient manner is the only way out of this quagmire,’ he said.
Advocate Badar Iqbal, commenting on the culture of delay in the judiciary, said that every entrenched system has its beneficiaries who protect it with all their might and main. “The present system has numerous people who are and will protect it at all costs. If a defendant has his way and gains a suitable order, he’ll employ delaying tactics. If a plaintiff gets a stay he’ll also do the same,” he said.
Iqbal was of the opinion that the usual culprits include few judges, countless litigants, indifferent advocates, long procedural formalities, faulty legislation and regulation. According to Iqbal, an absence of apt management at the lowest tier of the judiciary was also one of the reasons behind the delay in wrapping up the pending cases.