Protest against judges' elevation uncalled for: CJP

Justice Gulzar says ready to talk with bars to chalk out objective criteria for judges' appointment


Hasnaat Malik September 13, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Gulzar Ahmed said on Monday that the protest organised by the lawyer community on September 9 against the appointment of junior judges to the Supreme Court (SC) was “uncalled for”.

The chief justice made these remarks while addressing a ceremony to mark the start of the new judicial year. The top judge said that the SC and superior judiciary was open to talks with lawyers to chalk out an effective and objective criteria for the elevation of judges to the top court.

CJP Gulzar said even though he was “always” ready to meet the representatives of the lawyer community for an amicable solution to their problems, this time no one approached him regarding the appointment of judges.

He went on to say that he wondered what was the motive behind the lawyers’ agitation on SC premises last week.

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The two major pillars of the judiciary, the bench and the bar have been drifting apart following differences over the appointment of judges to the apex court.

The CJP said that there was an increase in the “pendency of cases” due to coronavirus, adding that the judges “spent a major part of the year trying to implement plan of action to deal with this problem”.

“In addressing this problem, my brother judges and the staff of this court have provided full support and cooperation and worked with dedication and zeal to ensure the provision of justice,” the top judge added.

E-courts

The CJP said that e-courts proved beneficial in addressing problems faced by litigants and parties to the case. “In the previous judicial year 2019-2020, one of the main reasons we identified for the backlog of cases was adjournments given to advocates who were unable to reach Islamabad due to various reasons,” he added.

“The video-link facility has played an active and key part in ensuring the smooth operation of our judicial functions throughout the pandemic and has prevented unnecessary adjournments,” the CJP added.

Backlog

At the start of the previous judicial year, a total of 45,644 cases were pending, whereas 20,910 fresh cases were instituted, the CJP said.

During the outgoing judicial year, the court decided 12,968 cases, including 6,797 Civil petitions, 1,916 civil appeals, 459 civil review petitions, 2,625 criminal petitions, 681 criminal appeals, 37 criminal review petitions and 100 criminal original petitions.

“I may mention here that during the previous judicial year, the court has to hear many cases involving constitutional interpretation and many larger benches were constituted for that purpose... it affected the overall disposal of regular petitions and appeals.”

Besides, the repeated waves of Covid also affected the rate of disposal of cases, he said, adding that “due to the said limitations” the number of pending cases increased slightly.

The Human Rights Cell, established in the Supreme Court, has continued to function. However, very few new cases were registered and an effort was made to regularly hear the pending cases and pass appropriate orders to protect the fundamental rights.

Administrative Issues

On Dec 23, 2020, the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee conducted performance review of superior and district judiciaries regarding the pendency, institution, and disposal of cases for 2020, as well as analysis of trends for pendency, institution and disposal for the last 10 years.

“The Committee also reviewed the vacancy position in superior and district judiciary...and it recommended to take up the matter with the Peshawar High Court to increase the number of judges therein after the merger of the erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas.”

On Dec 24, 2020, a meeting of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan was held to review various proposed legislative reforms.

“The Commission reviewed the performance of the LJCP Secretariat, along with reports and research papers on various law reforms. I constituted several committees to evaluate the proposals and their workability,” he added.

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During the said year, the National Judicial Automation Unit (NJAU) was also established, Justice Gulzar Ahmed added.

“This Committee, under the Chairmanship of now Retired Justice Mushir Alam launched the National Online Dashboard (NOD) and the E-Case Information Management System (e-CIMS)” to facilitate the litigants, CJP Gulzar further said.

"The Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan has constituted the District Legal Empowerment Committees (DLECs) to provide free legal aid to deserving litigants."

“Until the end of [previous] judicial year, funds of Rs 64.2 million have been released to 124 DLECs constituted in four provinces and the federal capital,” the top judge said, adding that 11 new DLECS were established in Kurram, North Waziristan, South Waziristan, Orakzai and Kolai Pallas.

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