ISLAMABAD  - The Supreme Court and subordinate courts in the country have been staring at over 1.7 million pending cases with district courts in Punjab leading having maximum number of unsettled cases.

The National Assembly was informed Wednesday that the number of cases pending in Supreme Court, High Courts and subordinate judiciary had reached 1.7 million in 2013 and several courts functioning with vacant posts for judges.

The number of pending cases in Supreme Court as on December 31, 2013 is 20,480. The apex court on January 1, 2013 had a backlog of 20314 cases. During that time, the supreme judiciary had working with strength of 15 judges against the sanctioned strength of 16 judges.

The government in a written reply to the house said that several laws and reforms had been made for expeditious delivery of justice and disposal of cases; however, the data of pending cases shared with the house indicates that the judiciary has a mountain to climb to deliver speedy justice. The government told the house that the data of pending cases for the year 2014 has not yet been published by Judicial Statistics of Pakistan.

Pending cases with Lahore High Court (LHC) as on January 31, 2013 stand at 173,000 followed by Peshawar High Court (PHC) where the accumulation of cases has reached 26,713. The number of pending cases also has a heavy toll on individuals who expect speedy disposal of their complaints.

District courts in Punjab alone contribute 1.1 million pending cases to the tally of caseload followed by courts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the number of petitions has piled up to 132,000 as on December 31, 2013.

District courts in Balochistan where pending cases reached 4923 performed with 20 working strength against the sanctioned posts of 30 in 2013.

The government said reforms like Family Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2002, Police Order 2002, Law and Justice Commission (Amendment) ordinance 2002, Consumer Protection Laws and Transparent recruitment procedures adopted by all high courts for better quality judicial work, were some of the steps taken by government to ensure speedy disposal of cases.

District courts in Islamabad have accumulated 30,300 cases where seven judges were available for hearing 59,955 cases filed in 2013 against the sanctioned posts of 15 judges. Similarly, Islamabad High Court has to dispose of over 13,387 cases accumulated over the period of one year.

District courts Sindh too have one of the highest backlogs where 124,190 cases of different natures have been awaiting for disposal despite that the there was only one post vacant in the sanctioned strength of 27. It is to be mentioned here that in September 2012, former Chief Justice Supreme Court Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary had said that over 1.6 million cases were pending in the district and the superior courts.