LAHORE - The government’s claims that it has zero tolerance towards corruption sound absolutely hollow as there are only two anti-corruption courts for five districts of Lahore division, and one court has been without judge for past one month, The Nation has learnt.

The only judge cannot deal with all cases, as a result of which the number of pending cases is going up by the day. At present, there are around 450 cases pending with two courts. Ironically, the past track shows that no judge could work more than three to four months and transferred to other places.

The current judge of Anti-Corruption A2 is serving for last four months while Anti-Corruption A1’s judge Syed Pervez Ali, who was transferred during the last month, could work hardly for 2 to 3 months, said the sources.

The officials said that around 300 cases were pending with Anti-Corruption Court-A1 while about 150 cases were pending with Anti-Corruption Court A2.

As the result of non-appointment, the litigants and lawyers both are suffering a lot. The litigants who come from outside the city face more troubles.

Two courts deal with the matters of District Okara, Kasur, Sheikhupura and Nankana Sahib. There are total 10 courts including cities including Sahiwal, Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Sahiwal, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahawalpur.

Advocate Supreme Court Sheikh Aftab Mustafa told The Nation that his 70 to 80 cases were lying pending with court A1. Giving reference of the case of Mehmood and others, Mr Mustafa said the evidence was not recorded in his case which is lying pending for last 6 to 7 years.

He said Mehmood was sacked from the office of inspector of Excise Department due to his alleged involvement in corruption of Rs 2.5 million.

The Excise Department officials told Mehmood that he would be inducted back if he was proven innocent; he said adding that the case would not conclude without recording evidence. “Witnesses would have recorded their statements if the judge had been there”, said Mr Mustafa.

Another man namely Shafiq said that his case was also fixed before the court A1 but the unavailability of the judge had disturbed him badly. Many people were behind the bars whose trial were not completed yet. Mostly those who are convicted by the anti-corruption courts hardly pay back the embezzled amounts and subsequently the state faces huge loss in shape of billions of rupees.

Former deputy director prosecution of Anti-corruption Muhammad Ibrahim Bhindar told The Nation that persons who are arrested under NAB ordinance have the privilege of plea bargain due to which they pay billions of rupees back to the state. But the persons who are arrested under Anti-Corruption laws do not have such privilege and subsequently the state faces loss, he added.

Bhindar suggested that there should option of plea of bargain for all those accused who are arrested under anti-corruption charges, thus, they could submit the embezzled amount.