–Top judge says number of pending cases has increased even though rate of disposal was higher in 2017 than last five years
–Says apex court will allow fair criticism but won’t tolerate attacks on judiciary
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar on Monday called on the judiciary to expedite the disposal of pending cases, saying that while the rate of disposal was higher in the past year than the last five years, the number of pending cases had increased slightly.
Addressing a full court reference on the commencement of a new judicial year, the CJP said, “We began the last year with the resolve to lessen the daunting backlog of cases,” he said, while placing the number of pending cases at the start of the previous judicial year at 37, 000 – out of which the SC had decided 19, 000 cases.
In 2013, there were 20,480 pending cases but this figure had increased to 40,540 by August 15 this year, depicting an increase of almost 100 per cent.
Addressing the occasion, Chief Justice Nisar dubbed frivolous litigation as a major contributing factor increasing backlog. Unnecessary adjournments and customary delay tactics were next on the list of factors hampering the judicial process, he said, adding that removing such “poisonous” issues was vital for the survival of justice system.
“In the past year, the SC has been the most stringent in this context with a zero tolerance policy to any form of unnecessary delay,” he remarked.
The top judge stressed that the maximum number of cases were fixed and heard during the previous judicial year. He added that the judges and judicial staff worked tirelessly round the clock to expedite the process of litigation “in this ultimate forum for the redressal of the grievances of the litigant public”.
“The common man must not suffer at the hands of the justice system – the very institution from which it seeks justice,” asserted Justice Nisar.
He urged for initiatives to aid lawyers and litigant public including the issuance of proposed cause lists in advance to enable counsel to prepare briefs and make necessary arrangements for their appearance, simplification of the process of filing of applications and capacity building through training courses at the federal and provincial level.
Justice Nisar said the SC’s primary concern was to ensure enforcement of the various fundamental rights guaranteed under the constitution.
On freedom of speech, Justice Nisar observed that the apex court would allow fair criticism but will not tolerate any attack on the judiciary. He also urged the media to not hold talk shows on sub-judice matters which may cause prejudice.
Reiterating that bad governance and injustice had plagued society, the chief justice encouraged the judicial fraternity to aim higher. “We have spent enough time being complacent, it is now time to proactively search inwards and rectify the wrongs within the legal system.”
“There is no valor in being complacent, no wisdom in limiting our potential by aiming low and certainly no nobility in looking down on those who aim high despite the odds. You see, time has never favored the timid, it favors only the bold and courageous,” the top judge said.