ISLAMABAD: While accepting that the number of pending cases increased despite a comparatively much higher disposal rate, the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar has said a major factor contributing to the piling up of cases is frivolous litigation.
“At the start of previous judicial year, a total of approximately 37,000 cases were pending adjudication in this court out of which near to 19,000 cases were decided. While this year the rate of disposal was higher than the last five years, the number of pending cases nevertheless increased slightly. A major contributing factor to the backlog of cases is frivolous litigation,” said top judge on Monday.
The CJP, who was addressing a ceremony to mark the start of the 2018-2019 judicial year, said unnecessary adjournments and customary delay tactics severely hamper the process of clearing the backlog of cases.
“These menaces should be seen as nothing less than poison, and should be treated as such: removing it from the body of the bar and bench is vital for survival of the justice system,” the CJP added.
He, however, lauded efforts of Justice Asif Saeed Khosa and Justice Manzoor A Malik to clear backlog of criminal appeals, adding that there is zero pendency of criminal appeals in Quetta and Karachi registries.
At least 8, 000 cases have been added on top of previous pending cases during the 20-month-long tenure of the CJP. From 2013 and 2018, the pendency of cases has doubled. In 2013, there were 20,480 cases pending but this figure has increased to 40,540 by August 15 this year, depicting an almost 100 per cent increase.
On freedom of speech, Justice Nisar observed that the apex court would allow fair criticism but will not tolerate any attack on the judiciary. He also urged the media not to hold talk shows on sub judice matters which may cause prejudice.
The CJP said he has already taken up the matter to determine scope of suo motu jurisdiction under Article 184(3) and will form an appropriate bench to hear the matter in consultation with senior judges.
High court’s writ jurisdiction being misused: AGP
The Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) Anwar Mansoor Khan in his address said the high court’s writ jurisdiction under Article 199 of the Constitution is being misused. “We need to strictly interpret Article 199, specially where, in special laws complete legal hierarchy for appeals have been provided,” he said.
He said through the various judgments of the superior courts the jurisdiction of the high court under Article 199 has been substantially enlarged which is being misused.
“This possibly can be restricted through imposition of heavy costs where the Hon’ble Courts come to the conclusion that a petition has been filed without valid reasons or justifiable cause,” he added.
The AGP said pendency in various courts is a serious issue. If not resolved it may become impossible in times to come to truly resolve the issue of pendency and will be a cause of severe delays in disposal.
“The Institutions are much more than what can be disposed of especially in high courts and subordinate courts. Whereas under various laws the high courts are usually the appellate forum against judgments rendered by subordinate courts. However, one notices the rising litigation under Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan,” Khan said.
The AGP also asked the SC to ensure that the international treaties are honoured so that no embarrassing situation for the state is created in international tribunals or arbitrations, which “we are facing, where arbitral awards against the government have been given.”
The AGP, who is top law officer of the country, urged that respective institutional boundaries must be respected by all institutions. “The state of Pakistan is faced with burden of incurring financial losses amounting to billions of dollars due to hastily conceived, populistic judicial decisions of the past disregarding international Laws and norms,” he added.