Backlog of 1.9m cases can be cleared if more judges are appointed: CJP Asif Saeed Khosa

Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa said on Friday that if judges are appointed to 25 per cent of the vacant positions in the system, the backlog of pending cases in court could be wrapped up within a year or two.
"There are only 3,000 judges to cater to a population of 221 to 222 million people," Justice Khosa said while adding that last year, the justice system wrapped up 3.1 million cases.
"The Supreme Court wrapped up a total of 26,000 cases last year, while the US Supreme Court managed to only wrap up 80 to 90 cases," the chief justice said while making a comparison.
The chief justice said that 1.9 million cases are still pending with the justice system and that even with a shortage of judges, people in the system are trying to wrap up as many cases as they can.
The chief justice had also raised the same issue previously when he had pointed out that only one judge was available for a population of 62,000 in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Similarly in the Lahore High Court, only one judge is available for 2.2 million people.
Also in Punjab, a single judge has a case load of more than 660 cases which shows that the judiciary is doing its best for dispensation of justice despite heavy case load and it is endeavouring to resolve the issues of delays within its existing limited resources.
“And when we ask the government to increase the number of judges so that justice can be delivered promptly, they reply to us they are short of funds,” Justice Khosa had said at the time.During the meeting, it was unanimously decided that the adjournments should be discouraged whereas appeals should be fixed in a chronological order and reviews must be fixed in the next week subject to availability of author judges.
The Full Court also discussed agenda regarding video link connectivity between the principal seat in Islamabad and its branch registries. It was resolved that the e-court system be established between Islamabad and branch registries through the application of latest video link connectivity so as to facilitate lawyers to argue their cases from branch registries by availing this facility which can minimise the backlog.
Deliberating on the issue of institution and disposal of cases, the Full Court noted that during the period from September 01, 2018 to December 31, 2018, the court decided 6,342 cases against the institution of 6,407 cases, leaving a total pendency of 40,535 cases.

A total of 1,873,085 cases were pending disposal in all the superior and subordinate courts of Pakistan as on November 30, 2017, according to the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (L&JCP).
In his elaborate addresses in Karachi on Saturday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar clearly showed his concern over the huge pendency and urged the high court judges to dispose of cases within three months. “The judiciary can’t be blamed alone for delay in the dispensation of justice and people can’t get speedy justice until centuries old laws are updated and amended by parliament. The judiciary cannot make legislation and neither can it encroach the domain of the legislature.”
All the judicial bodies -- the Supreme Court, the five high courts, the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) and the district judiciaries of the provinces and the federal capital -- are confronted with a massive pendency, as per the L&JCP data uploaded on its website. However, the present undecided cases, 1,873,085 as against the previous figure of 1,908,571 recorded a fall of 35,486 petitions. As many as 303,505 new pleas were instituted while 339,640 were disposed of during the period in question.
As per the statistics compiled by the L&JCP, the Supreme Court has 38,071 cases pending till November 30. During this month, a total of 1,614 cases were disposed of while 1,851 new ones were instituted. Previously, it has 37,834 pending cases.
All the five high courts have a huge number of 293,316 cases, which are yet to be decided. Of them, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has 147,633 pending cases; the Sindh High Court (SHC) has 93,404 undecided cases; the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has a pendency of 29,525 cases; the Balochistan High Court (BHC) has 6,510 cases awaiting decisions; and the IHC, which is relatively new as it was established a few years back, has 16,244 pending cases.
The superior judiciary including the Supreme Court and high courts of Islamabad, Lahore, Sindh and Peshawar are frequently inundated with petitions having political import. Their speedy adjudication consumes a colossal time of these courts. The BHC is mostly spared of pleas of such character.
Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had earlier pinpointed the difficulties he encountered in dealing with other petitions by his brother judges when the apex court was busy for almost a year with the Panama case. He had stated that he was left with a small number of judges to do other judicial work and some of them have to be sent to Peshawar, Lahore and Karachi to take up other cases at these stations while others stayed in the Islamabad office.
The top judge had in fact bemoaned flooding the apex court with the cases of high profile
political nature and said that after it has adjudicated upon two most important sets of petitions (relating to Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Jehangir Tareen), the judges will be able to find time to handle the pleas of ordinary litigants.
The downside of taking up petitions entailing dire political consequences for top politicians is that if one party widely disputes the judgment, the other hails it, thus creating a serious controversy. This precisely happened when the top court handed verdicts against Nawaz Sharif and Jehangir Tareen and in favour of Imran Khan. The chief justice was constrained to clarify certain points publicly. In addition, the cases of ordinary litigants face delays as courts are seized with pleas of political nature.
While petitions pertaining to political issues are taken up quickly and decided in a short span of time by superior courts, several other cases continue to drag at different stages, heavily costing the parties involved in them. The court proceedings involving top government and opposition politicians and officials often attract vast public attention but hearings on other cases stir no interest anywhere.
A classic example that poorly reflected upon the judicial system of Pakistan recently emerged in which an elderly gentleman fought against the illegal occupation of his plot in the upscale sector of Islamabad E-7 for more than decades to retrieve it from the mafia. He was just 40 years old when the dispute was imposed on him and when he won, he was 77 having become physically frail due to the impact of the age. He was definitely going to waste some more years in the battle had Justice Shaukat Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had not put his foot down and got the costly plot back to the elderly man. But in the process, the judge had to hear harsh words from two lawyers, one of them the illegal occupant of the plot, which led to the suspension of their licences by the judge. The elderly man spent millions of rupees on the litigation that was absolutely frivolous for him because he was the rightful owner of the piece of land, allotted by the Capital Development Authority.
There has been no demand, at least known in the public domain, from the Supreme Court or any high court, seeking increase in the number of judges to clear the colossal backlog. During the incumbency of former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, the salaries and pensions of the judges of all courts were tremendously raised to provide them economic protection they deserved so that they work single-mindedly.
Whether one admits it not, it is a harsh reality that delayed dispensation of justice has ruined or turned many families pauper apart from fuelling ceaseless feuds, resulting in heinous crimes. Adjournments are the order of the day especially if one party is determined to block any progress, the proceedings can’t move ahead even an inch. Innumerable murders have taken place because of the lingering of disputes in courts. This sorry saga will go on unabated, destroying the hapless families concerned, unless justice is swiftly delivered. When a litigant fails to get his grievance redressed in the legal process, he, out of sheer frustration, embarks upon a path to do justice in a violent way, spawning lawlessness.
There are a host of communities and segments of society being persecuted by inordinate delays. Although no precise data is available, countless widows and orphans, after being deprived of their rights, forced to run from pillar to post for decades for relief, have hardly anything to rejoice when they go to courts. The business fraternity is not a lesser sufferer owing to delays in disposal of cases relating to it. This type of litigation pertains to the pleas filed by businessmen and others including the government against them or the vice versa. As a result, the blockades cause woes to their businesses. In any way, the dragging of such suits harms promotion of business and discourages foreign investment that Pakistan direly needs.
Another set of cases involves the establishment, the government and powerful people. In this litigation, only the other side is at the receiving end. It is difficult to find even rare examples when even delayed decisions are handed down against this powerful lot. Yet another category of suits pertains to property. It is impossible to count the families rocked by the highly belated adjudication, a fact which has claimed many lives.
Apart from the mental agony and loss of human lives the parties have to live with, they are condemned to shell out huge money to bear the cost of protracted proceedings in different phases of trial and appeals. The lawyers’ fee is not only the price they have to pay. There is much more to it they have to concede financially.
The district judiciary -- sessions judges, additional sessions judges, senior civil judges and civil judges -- is also faced with an enormous pendency of 1,541,119 cases. Although Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is small in size compared to Sindh, its district judiciary has more than double undecided cases. The district judiciary of Punjab has 1,187,076 pending cases; the district judiciary of Sindh has 99,820; the district judiciary of KP has 204,209 cases; the district judiciary of Balochistan has 13,009 cases; and the district judiciary of Islamabad has 37,005 cases awaiting disposal.
The Federal Shariat Court, which is away from the media focus, is yet to decide 579 cases. A total of 41 new pleas were instituted in November while 33 were decided by it. Prior to November, it has a pendency of 587 cases.
Of different tiers of dispensation of justice system, the district judiciary, which has behemoth pendency, has not evoked the due attention of the policymakers so that it delivers, saving the litigants from the agony and anguish. The five high courts, which earlier had 295,041 pending cases, now have 293,316 undecided suits. A total of 20,059 fresh cases were instituted while 22,012 disposed during the period under review.
Previously, the LHC had a pendency of 147,842 cases while it has now 147,633 suits. Some 14,295 new cases were instituted and 13,617 were adjudicated upon. The SHC currently has 93,404 cases, which are yet to be decided, compared to its earlier tally of 93,660 pleas. A total of 3,502 new cases were instituted while 3,693 were disposed of. The PHC earlier had 30,910 pending cases as against its existing undecided suits numbering 29,525. Some 991 fresh cases were instituted while 3,534 were decided during the period under review. The BHC, which now has a pendency of 6,510 cases, previously had 6,449 pleas undecided. As many as 503 fresh cases were filed and 442 were disposed of. The IHC that previously had 16,180 pending cases presently has 16,244 suits. A total of 768 new cases were instituted and 726 were decided.
Similarly, the district judiciary of Punjab, which earlier had 1,219,201 unsettled cases, now has 1,187,076 suits awaiting decisions. Some 207,541 fresh cases were filed while 240,074 were adjudicated upon. The district judiciary of Sindh presently has 99,820 undecided cases compared to its earlier figure of 101,580 suits. Some 22,803 new cases were instituted as against 24,628, which were settled. The KP’s district judiciary that earlier had 204,950 undecided cases now has 204,209 such suits whereas it disposed of 38,766 and saw 38,092 new cases having been filed. The district judiciary of Balochistan, which currently has 13,009 cases that are to be decided, previously had 13,229 such pleas. As many as 650 new cases were filed while it decided 875 pleas. Islamabad’s district judiciary, which previously had 36,149 unsettled cases, presently has 37,005 suits. Some 8,476 fresh cases were instituted while 7,620 were adjudicated upon.
The figures relating to the high courts and district judiciaries include the “old cases” filed up to December 31, 2011, and “new cases” submitted after January 1, 2012.

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South Punjab News : Backlog of 1.9m cases can be cleared if more judges are appointed: CJP Asif Saeed Khosa
Backlog of 1.9m cases can be cleared if more judges are appointed: CJP Asif Saeed Khosa
"The Supreme Court wrapped up a total of 26,000 cases last year, while the US Supreme Court managed to only wrap up 80 to 90 cases," the chief justice said while making a comparison.
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