- The backlogs in other courts
The Supreme Court has ordered the federal government to immediately appoint judges at five vacant accountability courts while proposing to establish at least 120 courts of the type to adjudicate 1,226 pending cases. One hopes that the government would fill the vacancies at the earliest and give serious consideration to the apex court’s suggestion.
The basic idea behind creating the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was not to eradicate corruption but to prepare cases against political opponents in order to pressurise them to cooperate with those in power. The NAB was used as a dry cleaning machine by former President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf and continues to perform the same function under the PTI. Recovering money from ordinary conmen or corrupt officials was low on NAB’s priority list. Relying only on confessional statements extracted through third-degree methods or by naming and shaming through a media trial, NAB did not bother to improve its evidence-gathering system or upgrade its prosecution department enabling it to prepare strong cases. Even if there are 120 accountability courts in the country the performance of a politically motivated NAB relying on outdated methods, would remain subpar.
Delay in justice is however not confined to the accountability courts only. A big backlog of cases awaits the attention of the Supreme Court and the country’s High Courts, despite the hackneyed dictum “justice delayed is justice denied.” The Supreme Court’s Summary Statement of Case Institution, Disposal and Pendency From June 1, 2020 to June 15, 2020 shows that the backlogs continue despite improvements made by former CJP Mr Justice Nasir Mahmood Khosa.
When justice is costly or drawn out, this gives birth to serious deviations in society. Among other things this leads to demand for parallel judicial systems. The Taliban’s primitive system of justice, totally out of sync with the times, was liked by some as it provided instant and cost-free justice. The introduction of military courts to deal with cases of terrorism, which should be anathema in a democratic country, was justified for being speedy. There is a need for the Supreme Court to take measures to dispose of pending cases not only in the apex court but also in the High Courts and lower courts also.