ISLAMABAD - The Supreme Court of Pakistan Wednesday directed the authorities to establish 120 Accountability Courts across the country for early disposal of corruption cases.

A three-member special bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Gulzar Ahmed conducted hearing of suo moto notice about delays in decision-making process in cases before the Accountability Courts.

The bench said in its order, “We note that the number of pendency of cases in the Accountability Court demands more than a hundred judges/courts for dealing with and deciding these cases.” The Chief Justice said that the cases were filed regularly and their numbers were increasing while the numbers of courts were totally stagnant.

The bench said that the strength of the Accountability Court all over Pakistan should immediately be increased by the government in order to ensure that all the NAB cases come to their logical conclusion at a fast pace or at least within three months.

It added that Secretary Law had been directed to immediately seek instruction from the government on proposal of creating at least 120 Accountability Court all over the country and to fill up such courts with the judges.

The bench further said that if such measure were not adopted by the government and NAB, then the whole purpose of the law would stand vitiated, which apparently was not the purpose of the legislature.

The apex court said that Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was asked to submit report as to how the NAB proposed to deal with all these pending cases. Attorney General for Pakistan, Prosecutor General NAB and Secretary Law were ordered to appear before the court on the next hearing.

The law secretary was also ordered to appoint judges in five accountability courts i.e. one each in Peshawar, Quetta, Islamabad and two in Karachi.

Justice Gulzar said that no reason had been given as to why the vacant posts had not been filled up till now. “We are unable to understand the rational or logic behind the courts vacant for long periods by the relevant authorities,” said the Chief Justice. He said that if the judges were not appointed within one week, the Court would take action against the concerned officials.

The Chief Justice said that the corruption cases should be decided by the NAB courts within thirty days. He said, “The whole purpose of making accountability law apparently seems to be rendered futile if the courts are allowed to remain vacant.”

The bench noted that 1,226 NAB references had been pending in various courts since year 2000. The court noted that apparently there seemed no justification as to why these cases were being allowed to remain pending as they had to be disposed of without any delay at all.

Justice Gulzar said that they expected that the secretary law, after seeking instruction from the government, should immediately fill in all the vacancies of the Accountability Courts within one week without fail, otherwise the court should take coercive action against the officials found defaulting in performing their duties.

It was January 8 when Justice Mushir Alam had requested the Chief Justice to constitute a special bench and initiate suo moto proceedings over the delay in prosecuting the accused before the accountability courts.

The top court therefore had also asked the NAB to furnish a report highlighting reasons for delay in trials, how many accountability courts were short of presiding judges and the reasons why the vacancies had not been filled as yet.

Later, the apex court deferred hearing in this case for one week for further proceedings.