LAHORE - The banking courts have yet to decide over 10,000 cases pending for last many years amid the official demand for more workers, enough salaries, proper infrastructure and discouraging delaying tactics of lawyers.

Unnecessary adjournments, lawyers’ strikes, low strength of judges against the rising burden of working are the other factors of such case pendency of in the banking courts of Punjab, sources told The Nation.

They said unavailability of staffers, especially stenographers, absence of technological support and unsupportive attitude of lawyers of majority parties were causing delay in dispensation of 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 loan recovery) and only two courts for banking crimes. The people who live in Multan, Sadiaqabad, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi suffer more due to visits to Lahore every time they have to file suit against defaulters.

Even as the federal government has increased the strength of judges at these courts, from four to seven, there is still no respite for the aggrieved parties (banks) which intend to the courts for recovery of their bad debts.

Last year, 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] 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,” said an official of the National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), seeking anonymity.

Legal experts refer to Section 13 (3) of Financial Institutions (recovery of finances) Ordinance 2001 that says 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,” said Sahabzada Muzaffar Ali, ex-legal consultant NAB and former legal head of Bank of Punjab.

“Section 11 of the same law empowers the banking courts to pass an interim judgment on a recovery suit to the distance of claim which is admitted by defendants and the case can go for execution after expiry of 30 days.

“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 added.

Mr Ali suggested that State Bank of Pakistan should also make a policy for those people who are needy and cannot pay back loan money.

“The courts should appoint amicus curie, if needed, for any problem like counting of sums,” he further said.

He also stressed the increase in strength of judges for dispensing timely justice.