ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Standing Committee for Law and Justice has expressed concern over the report of 1.8 million cases pending in various courts of Pakistan.
Committee chairman Riaz Fatyana during a session on Wednesday expressed need to increase the number of judges for expediting cases while committee members expressing concern over the appalling state of prisons and inmates have decided to hold visits to jails across the country.
The committee will now visit Lahore jail on March 25. Secretary Law in his briefing to the committee told the courts have given verdicts for over 18.8 million cases during the past five years despite failing to fill 25 per cent of the vacancies. From February 2015 to 2019, 13.749 million cases were filed at the court and last year, a cut of about 100,000 cases was noted.
The officials further briefed the committee over the cases finalised by high courts between January 1 2019 and February 28 2019. They said that over 345,000 cases are pending in various high courts of the country while 37,957 cases have been decided.
“Supreme Court has 38,061 pending cases while 3,033 cases were finalised during the first two months of the year,” the officials told adding the federal Shariat Court finalised 105 cases while 323 cases are remain pending.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) has 165,202 cases pending while 23,408 have been decided. Similarly, the Sindh High Court (SHC) has 88,972 cases waiting decision while only 5,943 cases have been finalised.
The committee was also informed the Peshawar High Court has 29,455 cases while 3,682 cases have been finalised. Balochistan High Court has 6,158 pending cases while 253 cases have been completed during the first two months of 2019 while 16,833 cases are awaiting decision in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) while 1,461 cases have been decided.
Speaking during the session, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Khawaja Saad Rafiq pointed to the issue of suspension of funds for deserving jail inmates and said majority of prisoners detained cannot even afford to hire lawyers.
Meanwhile, another PML-N leader and committee member Rana Sanaullah said the inmates who can be freed after three months continue to remain in jail for as long as six months. On the other side, Secretary Law and Justice Commission said every district is being given Rs400,000 on account of legal support.
Rafiq said the Law and Justice Commission has given a narrow budget to the provinces to deal with the matter, to which the secretary said the commission may extend further budget if the provinces utilise their previous budget in full.
“Provinces are not able to utilise budget in this regard due to complex procedures,” he said. Moreover, committee member Sher Ali Arbab stressed on the need to simplify the procedure to extend support to deserving inmates in jail while Sanaullah maintained the cases handled by courts were related to bails and suo-motu notices but all other cases remain pending.
“There should only be two judges for bails in courts while other judges should hear the remaining cases,” said the PML-N leader.
Subsequently, Committee Chairman Fatyana maintained most of the inmates held in jails are accused and not criminals. He sought briefing on the implementation of the report of the commission that probed the case against attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Fatyana also directed authorities to present report of the judicial commission regarding killing of judicial officers in Sialkot jail while criticising the absence of Law Minister Farogh Nasim during the session and decided to write a letter of disapproval to the cabinet division.