By Adnan Rafique
ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed on Monday said that the apex court had disposed of 12,544 cases during the previous judicial year, leaving the pendency of 45,455 cases. He was addressing a ceremony held in accordance with the start of the new Judicial Year 2020-21.
The CJP highlighting the overall institution performance and disposal of cases in apex court, said that it would be appropriate to bifurcate the previous year in to two phases, pre-COVID-19 and post-COVID-19 and at the beginning of the judicial year, total 42138 cases were pending.
During the pre COVID-19 period, about 8817 fresh cases were filed out of which around 6752 cases were decided while during post COVID-19 period, 7046 cases were filed while 5792 cases were decided, leaving the closing balance of 45455 cases, he added. He said â€œwith the zeal to clear the backlog of cases, judges volunteered to forego most of their vacations and continued to perform their duties.
By adopting such measures, about 12544 cases were disposed of during the previous judicial year. â€œI must say that the effect of COVID-19 was enormous and despite our best efforts to reduce the backlog of cases, the number of pending cases has increased slightlyâ€ , he added. However, when the intensity of COVID-19 was reduced in Pakistan in one month of August, 2020, the rate of disposal of cases increased, that is, against institution of 691 cases, 1076 cases were decided, and I am confident that in coming months, the pattern will continue and the rate of disposal shall increase furtherâ€ , he said.
He said it was observed that main contributory factor towards the delay in disposal of cases was adjournments and one of the causes for adjournments was that the advocates at time were not able to reach the Court at Islamabad on account of their personal reasons, including, the engagements at their own station. In order to overcome this problem and to provide expeditious and inexpensive justice to the litigants, the cases were heard through e-Court system.
Initially, the facility of video-link connectivity was available only at Branch Registry Karachi, but it was extended to all the Branch Registries, he added. He said that Justice was not only the foundation of every civilized society but also one of the fundamentals of Islam as envisaged by the Holy Quran and Sunnah. Justice was not merely the determination of the rights of the public according to the law but to ensure equality before the law and everyone must be treated equally under the law regardless of gender, race, religion or colour, etc, he added.
He said â€œOur Constitution guarantees equality before law and equal protection of law.â€ He said, â€œWith the vision to overcome the issue of protracted litigation, the Model Courts have been established throughout Pakistan, which conduct and conclude trials of criminal as well as civil cases in few months rather than years.
During the pre COVID-19 period, that is, 01.09.2019 till 29.02.2020, in 153 working days, 173 Model Criminal Trial Courts decided 21553 Murder and Narcotic cases. During this period, 152 Model Trial Magistrate Courts decided 61795 and 119 Model Civil Appellate Courts decided 33502 cases.
In this way, total 444 Modal Courts, in all, decided massive number of 116,850 (one hundred sixteen thousand eight hundred fifty) cases in just 153 days. The COVID-19 has also hampered the progress of Model Courts. During the period from 01.03.2020 to 11.09.2020, 437 Modal courts could decide total 16487 cases in about 154 days.â€
He said â€œThe role of Bar in the administration of justice cannot be overlooked. The Bar has always extended its full cooperation and support to the cause of justice. Most of the counsel have responded to our policy of discouraging the unnecessary adjournments in a positive manner. They come prepared with briefs and never seek adjournments, except for unavoidable circumstancesâ€ , he added.
â€œI would like to conclude with an assurance that in the times to come, the judiciary at all levels shall continue to strive to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution, to foster justice in all circumstances and to ensure rule of law in the country,â€ the CJP concluded.
Attorney General for Pakistan Khalid Jawed Khan also spoke at the ceremony, and said that only a truly independent judiciary could be the ultimate custodian and bulwark of the rights and liberties of the people. â€œThe institutional independence of the judiciary has to be jealously guarded and there can be no better guarantor of its independence than a united Court with a robust Bar standing by it. The true strength lies in unity,â€ he added.
He said that while holding others accountable for their deed and conduct, this court has always been amenable to the highest degree of its own accountability. Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Abid Saqi and President Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Syed Qalib-i-Hassan also addressed the ceremony.