ISLAMABAD - At the end of year 2012 a total 20143 cases are pending in the Supreme Court of Pakistan despite the fact that various benches at the principal seat, Islamabad, and Branch Registries were constituted to expedite the case hearings and clear the backlog.

According to press release of the Supreme Court issued here on Friday, the judges in the apex court have worked in the summer and winter vacations and remained committed to accelerate disposal of the cases and diminish the backlog. “The Judges continued to hear the cases in various benches with the aim to minimize the backlog and provide relief to the litigants,” the statement further says.

This year in September on the occasion of New Judicial Year, Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, giving figure of pending cases in lower and higher judiciary, had stated that over 1.6 million cases were pending in the district and the superior courts till August 15, 2012.

“From January 01, 2011 to May 31, 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,” the CJP had said.

The judicial activism has not only ameliorated the judicial system as a whole, but has also enhanced public trust and confidence in the judiciary therefore the cases institution rate in all field has increased. But the legal experts say that the matters of public interest are heard with zeal and much time is given to them and sometime no time is left for the hearing of ordinary cases and thus many litigants, who from far flung areas, return home without their cases being taken up.

Faisal Chaudhry, an eminent lawyer, opines, “Unfortunately the Supreme Court has been treating the routine cases as exception viz a viz suo motos and media lucrative constitutional litigation. It is dismay to see absence of vibrant case management in the apex court to deal with the cases of common people,” he said.

His view is that in the full court meetings of the Supreme Court the matter should be taken on priority basis with the consultation of Pakistan Bar Council and Supreme Court Bar Association to provide an affective and quick disposal of cases of common persons. Yasin Azad, former president SCBA, said that now the Supreme Court has involved itself in every public issue. He said instead of all benches one or two benches should hear the constitutional petitions and suo motos.

He said that large number of pending cases in the High Courts and the lower judiciary is due to the shortage of judges, adding the Judicial Commission, set up under Article 175A, should fill the vacancies on war footings.

At district level 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 National Judicial (Policy Making) Committee, in its meeting on 27-28 April, 2012 had recommended that 1013, 173, 30, 52 and 79 posts of judicial officers were required at Punjab, Sindh, KPK, Balochistan and ICT respectively.

The Law and Justice Commission, under Section 6(2a) of the Law and Justice Commission Ordinance, 1979, took up the judges shortage issue with the concerned executive authorities with the respective governments at the federal and the provincial levels.

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.