ISLAMABAD - Over 1.6 million cases are pending in the district and the superior courts till August 15th, 2012, said the Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry while addressing on the occasion of New Judicial Year Ceremony, 2012.

“From January 1st, 2011 to May 31st, 2012, within a period of less than one and a half years, over 4.1 million fresh cases were instituted in the District as well as superior judiciaries. Thus, despite disposal of more than 4.0 million cases, the grand total of pending cases jumped to over 1.5 million cases by 31st May 2012 and over 1.6 million by 15th August, 2012,” he said.

Vice-Chairman Pakistan Bar Council Akhtar Hussain, President Supreme Court Bar Association Yaseen Azad and Additional Attorney General of Pakistan also addressed on the occasion.

The Chief Justice said that on 1st June 2009 when the National Judicial Policy was launched, about 1.75 million cases were pending in the superior courts as well as the district courts. Until 31st December, 2010, the above figure was successfully reduced to about 1.35 million cases, despite institution of more than 3.2 million new cases, he added.

Explaining reasons for delay in disposal of cases, he said there is a shortage of judicial officers at district level.

“Presently there are 177, 87, 102, 103 and 79 posts of judicial officers lying vacant in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Islamabad Capital Territory respectively.”

“The Law and Justice Commission, under Section 6(2a) of the Law and Justice Commission Ordinance, 1979, took up the judges shortages issue with the concerned executive authorities with the respective governments at the Federal and the provincial levels. Realising sensitivity of the litigants problems, the National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee, in its meeting held on 27-28 April, 2012 in Karachi, in the light of the demands made by the Chief Justices of respective High Courts with regard to the human resources and budget allocations, recommended that 1013, 173, 30, 52 and 79 posts of judicial officers were required at Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Balochistan and ICT respectively,” he added.

To meet the said requirement, additional budget of Rs 16.08 million, Rs 8.18 m, Rs 5.03 million and Rs 1.52 million was required for the High Courts of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan respectively. However, there is no positive response from Federal or provincial governments ,therefore, no sufficient progress could be made because of inadequate funding by the concerned governments, he said.

He further said: in the Supreme Court of Pakistan from 1st September, 2011 to 27th August, 2012, 12,902 new cases were instituted whereas 11,243 cases were disposed of. The Human Rights Cell at the Supreme Court received 43,458 applications from 1st September, 2011 to 31st July 2012, out of which 38,253 were disposed of.

A large number of important constitutional cases were filed during the previous year, he said. For that purpose, larger Benches were constituted, which definitely cut at the disposal of regular petitions and appeals, he added.

The Chief Justice said that corruption is a big menace, which is required to be dealt with iron hands.

“The Judicial Policy calls upon strict adherence to the Code of Conduct by all the judicial officers and officials and initiation of disciplinary action against the corrupt ones. A Cell for Eradication of Corruption from Judiciary has been established under the supervision of Chief Justices of High Courts for disciplinary action against corrupt and incompetent judicial officers and court officials.”

Regarding shortage of judges in all the High Courts, he said that the Chief Justices of the High Courts have been asked to initiate the names of competent persons for consideration by the Judicial Commission of Pakistan and recommending to the Parliamentary Committee under Article 175A of the Constitution.  The judiciary has a primary role in the justice delivery system. However, all the authorities and institutions, including executive and the legislature, have to render auxiliary support and cooperation in the administration of justice and execution of the judicial process, he added.

In the recent years, judiciary as the third pillar of State has successfully emerged as a saviour and a protector of Constitutional supremacy and fundamental rights, he said.

Judicial activism on the part of apex Court has not only ameliorated the judicial system as a whole, but has also enhanced public trust and confidence in the institution, CJ stated.

The apex Court in all its verdicts has curtailed the Constitutional excesses of the State institutions and private individuals; and also curbed the social evils of corruption, kidnapping, abduction, forced disappearances, target killings, terrorism and violation of human rights to a great extent, he said.

“These social evils need to be uprooted through a collaborative and conjunctive effort before they completely erode the social fabric.”