Supreme Court backlog reaches crisis levels

ISLAMABAD: The backlog of Supreme Court cases reached crisis levels in 2021 after the apex judicial forum registered a significant surge in outstanding cases number of which increased from 51,387 in June to 51,766 in December.

Meanwhile, the statistics, shared by the court’s registrar office, showed the number of outstanding cases rose to 54,000 in November before dropping to the December figure.

The data further showed that 1,116 cases were heard, and decided, between December 16 to 31 as compared to 835 cases that left the court in the same period in 2020.

It merits a mention here the Supreme Court has adopted measures to address the backlog issue and in July, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed ordered the formation of 120 new accountability courts for early dispensation of justice.

The top judge had also directed for a decision on all pending references of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) within three months.

If cases reach any court, only 5-10 percent result in a conviction, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group on reforming the justice system.

Prosecutors are underpaid and overwhelmed and judges rely almost entirely on oral statements rather than physical evidence.

The system’s shortcomings are vast. Investigators typically work on 30-40 cases at a time. Most police are poorly trained and officers have few opportunities for promotion, providing little motivation to solve cases, the Asia Society think-tank concluded in a report published in July.

Torture is common in interrogations because many police are not taught any other method, it added.

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