LAHORE - Divulging the much-awaited National Judicial Policy, the Registrar Supreme Court on Saturday announced that huge backlog of 1704871 cases pending at all levels of judicial hierarchy throughout country would be disposed of in one year time commencing from June 1st, the day the policy would be enforced. As far as new cases are concerned, they would also be decided in one-year time from the date of their filing, while in Balochistan, he said, six months time would be sufficient to end backlog of old cases and dispose of new cases. Addressing a press conference at Supreme court Lahore Registry, Dr Faqir Hussain, flanked by the Registrars of all the four high courts, said the policy had been drafted by the National Judicial policy Making Committee headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry after having marathon deliberations and consultations with all bar associations, high courts, IGPs, IGs prisons and other stakeholders. He said backlog is mainly due to inadequate budgetary allocation that is negligible. Not even one per cent of federal and provincial budget is allocated for the third pillar of state. For the first time in countrys history, a timeframe has been given to eliminate backlog and dispose of cases falling under certain categories. Efforts have also been made to eliminate corruption from judiciary by recommended registration of criminal cases against corrupt judges, another step without any parallel in the past. The salient features of the policy are as under: Independence of judiciary No chief justice or a judge of the superior courts will accept appointment as acting Governor of a province. No retired judge of the superior court will accept an appointment which is lower than his status or dignity including appointment as presiding officer of banking court, customs courts , administrative tribunals. Posting of serving judges against executive posts in federal and provincial government departments on deputation be discontinued. Registrar said this aspect of the policy had already been achieved as 156 judicial officers in all four provinces have been repatriated to their respective high courts and were posted in courts as judicial officers. Judiciary will avoid its involvement in the conduct of election as it distracts judicial officers from professional duty and complaints of corrupt practices tarnish the image of judiciary. However government request in this regard will be considered by NJPMC. ERADICATION OF CORRUPTION In each High Court a Cell, named as Cell for Eradication of Corruption from Judiciary may be established in the office of Registrar, under the supervision of Chief Justice of High Court to entertain complaints with credible evidence. Action should be initiated against those judicial officers/staff that carry persistent reputation of being corrupt or have their life style beyond ostensible means of income. To guard against the evil of nepotism, favouritism, corrupt means etc, the MITs in High Courts may examine the judgments of the judicial officers to detect incidents of corruption/improper conduct. Surprise inspections will be carried out by the Chief Justices/judges of the High Courts to monitor the working of subordinate judiciary. The District and Sessions Judges should also report about the corruption/misconduct of their subordinate judges. Appropriate criminal cases under the relevant provisions of law may also be registered against the judicial officers/court staff involved in corruption. The corrupt judicial officers be made OSDs and kept against their post for the purpose of drawing salary only and disciplinary proceedings should be quickly finalized. No judicial officer/official should be posted in home district and those remained posted in a particular district beyond 3 years be transferred to other district. The complaints of corrupt practices and professional misconduct against lawyers addressed to the Chief Justice of High Court be forwarded to the Bar Council for action. The Council should take immediate action on such complaints under intimation to Registrars of the concerned High Court. Incentives should be given to the honest, efficient and hard working judicial officers including advance increments and posting at stations of choice etc. Expeditious disposal of Criminal cases Bail applications will be decided within a period not beyond 3 days by the Magistrate, 5 days by Court of Sessions and 7 days by the High Court. In bail matters, notice to State for production of record should not exceed 3 days. In criminal cases police/investigating agency would submit Challan (Police Report) within a period of 14 days as contemplated in section 173 CrPC. In case of non-completion of investigation, an interim report shall be submitted. All criminal cases punishable with imprisonment for up to 7 years registered after 1st January 2009 be kept on fast track for disposal within 6 months. All criminal cases punishable with imprisonment for 7 years and above including death cases shall be decided within a period of 1 year. To clear the backlog under different categories, the supreme court and high courts should constitute special benches. CIVIL CASES Writ petitions under Article 199 of the Constitution should be disposed of as quickly as possible. Writ petitions of the following categories if competent under the law, should be decided within 60 days: Pertaining to service disputes including promotion, transfer and such other matters, relating to admission of students in professional colleges and allied matters. Stay matter should be decided within 15 days of grant of interim injunction. The rent cases should be decided speedily within a period of 4 months while family cases should be decided within 3-6 months. Banking, tax, duty, levy and cess cases should be decided within 6 months. Civil Judges should decide review applications within 30 days and the trial of new cases (instituted after 1st January 2009) should be completed within 6 months. Priority should be given to women and juvenile cases for quick disposal. In the Supreme Court and High Courts, priority should be given to dispose of old cases by constituting special benches for each category. Priority should be given to the disposal of trade, commercial and investment cases. The District Judges should adopt such measures as would ensure handling of 50 per cent of cases from backlog (filed up to 31 December 2008) and 50 per cent from new cases (filed on 1st January, 2009 and onward). LONG TERM MEASURES The judges of High Courts should carryout inspections of prisons periodically for ensuring compliance of Prison Rules and giving on the spot remedy/relief to the deserving prisoners in accordance with law. Benefit of probation and parole laws should be extended to deserving good conduct offenders. The High Courts should frame an equitable policy for sending the Judges to the permanent and circuit benches so that every judge gets equal opportunity to serve at the principal seat and benches. Necessary funds be provided by government for infrastructure support like construction of courtrooms, amenities for lawyers/litigants parties. The strength of judicial officers and administrative staff should be increased to cope with rising trend of litigation in the country. The vacant posts in the subordinate courts should be immediately filled. Scattered courts are also one of the major causes of non-appearance of lawyers as it takes hours to reach from one court to another.