LAHORE:  The banking courts have to decide 10,000 cases yet lying pending due to different reasons including shortage of staffers, lower salaries, absence of required infrastructure and delaying tactics of both parties’ counsels.

 The sources in the courts told The Nation that unnecessary adjournments, lawyers’ strikes,   low strength of judges against the rising burden of working were the other factors of rising pendency. They said unavailability of staffers, especially stenographers, absence of technological support and unsupportive attitude of lawyers of majority parties were also causing delay in dispensation justice.

 Financial Institutions (recovery of finances) Ordinance 2001 demands Banking courts (for recovery of loan/finances) to decide matters within 90 days period but the courts are unable to do it. 

 There are total seven banking courts (for recovery of loan) and only two courts for banking crimes. The people who live in Multan, Sadiaqabad, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi were suffering because they had to come to Lahore to file a suit against a defaulter.  An official on the condition of anonymity told this scribe that it was surprising factor that the ministry of law and human rights established a court in Islamabad to hear the offences of banks where people of Rawalpindi Division are not allowed to file petitions or applications.

 The federal government, though, increased the strength of judges at Banking courts (for recovery of loans) from four to seven but still there was no respite for the aggrieved parties (banks) which intended to the courts for recovery of their amounts.

 An official of the National Bank on the condition of anonymity said “the agents create troubles for banks and for the people who get loans because they get commission for this job”.  “The government actually protects bank defaulters for political gains by waiving off their loans and thus the banks face loss,” he added.

 Former legal consultant NAB and former acting head of legal Bank of Punjab Sahabzada Muzaffar Ali said “Section 13 (3) of Financial Institutions (recovery of finances) Ordinance 2001 says that the courts will not adjourn any case for more than seven days but the courts give adjournments for months purely due to the burden of pending cases,”. He also said that Section 11 of the same law empowered the banking courts to pass an interim judgment on a recovery suit to the distance of claim which was admitted by the defendants and the case can go for execution after expiry of 30 days.

 Mr. Muzaffar further said “ Section 21 of the Ordinance has empowered the courts to adjudicate upon criminal complaint filed by the banks with regard to the criminality committed by the borrowers of the bank and if found guilty, the banking courts can punish the delinquent for a term which marks extend to three years,”.

 He suggested that State Bank of Pakistan should also make a policy of right off for those people who were really needy and could not pay borrowed money back to the Bank. The courts should appoint amicus curie, if needed, for any problem like counting of sums, said Mr. Muzaffar. He also suggested that the strength of the judges should be increased so the people could get timely justice.