ISLAMABAD .: During the 20 months of Mian Saqib Nisar as the chief justice of Pakistan, almost 8,000 cases have been added to the litigations pending before the Supreme Court.
When judicial performance of the top court in the last five years – from 2013 to 2018 – is reviewed, it transpires that pendency of cases has literally doubled. In 2013, a total of 20,480 cases were pending but the figure has increased to 40,540 cases till August 15, showing almost a 100% rise.
In 2001, the number of cases pending before the Supreme Court was 13,070. This figure has multiplied several times since. Historical trends suggest that the number has increased each year since 2001.
Seventeen thousand, three-hundred and seventy (17,370) cases were pending in 2002. In the coming 14 years from 2003 to 2016, the numbers of pending cases had been respectively 20,031, 27,614, 14,984, 13,724, 15,186, 17,754, 18,359, 20,234, 20,228, 20,314, 20,480, 22,979, 27,639 and 32,744.
There was a noticeable increase in pendency in 2016. In November 2017, numbers of pending cases reached 36,344. In the last nine months, around 4,000 cases had been added to the already massive pile of pending cases.
Thirty thousand, four-hundred and four (30,404) cases were pending in August 2016 while now the number of pending cases is 40,540. This shows that more than 10,000 cases were added in two years.
It has been noticed that the figure is increasing by the day as 39,525 cases were pending as on May 31, which has now reached 40,540 on August 15. Six hundred and eighty-two (682) cases have been instituted in the first 15 days of August while the SC decided 526 cases.
The Supreme Court has released its annual report 2016-17, which says the trend of increase in the institution of cases and consequential piling up of backlogs continues. A full court meeting was held on July 7, wherein the issue of institution and disposal of cases in the Supreme Court was deliberated on.
The full court noted that during the period from September 6, 2017 to June 30, 2018, the court decided 16,897 cases against the institution of 19,098 cases. The full court observed that there is a rising trend of institution of cases that shows the trust of people in the judiciary.
It has been witnessed that CJP Nisar has been active to proceed with matters related to mal-administration as well as public interests. However, he has admitted that he is unable to put his house, the judiciary, in order.
The issue of pendency in the SC is increasing day by day but no effective policy has been introduced to clear the backlog. The legal experts suggest that Alternative Dispute Resolutions is the option to decrease the trend of filing petitions.
They recommend that the time has come to implement a cost-and-fine system.
The increase in the public interest litigation also encourages citizens to approach the apex court, even though the litigants often have no solid case to contest. The government departments should review the policies and avoid filling frivolous cases.
The numbers of the SC’s judges may also be increased for the disposal of cases. They recommend if the high courts’ judges could not be elevated due to certain reasons then the apex court should directly appoint senior lawyers as judges of apex court under the Constitution.
Senior lawyers are also proposing that the CJP should devise a policy, wherein special benches be constituted to decide cases of similar nature. It has been witnessed that the SC judges have remained busy to adjudicate cases of political nature and public interest litigations
The rate of institution of cases in the Supreme Court has risen to unprecedented levels as more than 1200 new lawyers have been enrolled in the apex court. Due to the competition among lawyers, it is easy for litigants to engage their counsels on nominal fees.