• 18,075 more cases were filed before Supreme Court that decided 12,838 last year
• 157 cases pending before Federal Shariat Court and 337,522 before high courts by the end of 2021
KARACHI: The country’s superior and lower judiciaries are dealing with a huge backlog of 2.144 million cases as 4.102m cases were decided and 4.06m new cases were filed during 2021, it emerged on Tuesday.
The overall pendency at the start of 2021 before all the courts was 2.16m.
The Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court and five high courts of the country disposed of 229,822 cases and 241,250 new cases were instituted during last year and pending cases stood at 389,549 before the superior courts on Dec 31 while the same tally was 378,216 on Jan 1, 2021.
Similarly, 1,783,826 cases were pending trial at the start of last year before the district judiciary of the country and it adjudicated 3,872,686 cases and 3,822,881 fresh cases were filed during last year and total pendency stood at 1,754,947 before lower judiciary on Dec 31.
According to the statistics gathered by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, at the start of 2021, 46,695 cases were pending before the Supreme Court and at the end of year they stood at 51,766 as 12,838 cases were decided while 18,075 new cases filed at the apex court last year.
The Federal Shariat Court was established in 1980 by a military regime to examine and decide the question whether or not any law or provision of law is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam and to hear appeals in the cases of rape and unnatural offences. However, there are only 157 cases before the FSC since with the adoption of Protection of Women (Criminal Laws Amendment) Act 2006, the jurisdiction of this court was considerably curtailed, inasmuch as, appeals/applications for revision arising out of trial of offences were taken out from the Offence of Zina (Enforcement of Hudood) Ordinance 1979, and now such appeals are filed before the high courts.
There were 178 cases pending at start of 2021 before FSC and it settled 139 cases and 118 new cases were submitted before it last year.
The Lahore High Court adjudicated 149,362 cases last year and 148,436 new cases were instituted during the same period and total pending cases were 187,255 on Dec 31 at the LHC.
The Sindh High Court disposed of over 31,000 cases last year, but around 34,000 new cases were also instituted during the same period and total pending cases stood at over 84,000.
Similarly, the Peshawar High Court received 23,941 cases and decided 20,528 cases during 2021 and pendency stood at 44,703 cases.
There were 4,194 cases pending at the Balochistan High Court when the 2021 began and it disposed of 7,287 cases and 7,182 new cases were filed during previous and pending cases are 4,108 at the BHC.
The Islamabad High Court adjudicated 7,918 cases in 2021 and 9,433 new cases were instituted and pending cases were 17,456 at the end of last year.
Likewise, the lower judiciary of Punjab disposed of 2,904,745 and 2,826,774 new cases were filed last year and pending stood at 1,313,669 cases.
The district judiciary of Sindh decided 344,701 cases and 346,109 cases were filed in 2021 and total pendency was 117,790 on Dec 31.
The subordinate courts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa adjudicated 475,927 cases last year, 500,417 cases were instituted during the same period and total pending cases were 256,873.
Similarly, the district judiciary of Balochistan decided 59,652 and 59,289 cases were filed and the total cases pending trial stood at 15,675 while the lower courts at Islamabad disposed of 87,661 cases, 90,292 were instituted during 2021 and total pendency is 50,940.
The National Judicial Policy was formulated in 2009 to reduce the backlog of cases in the judiciary, ensure its independence and eradicate corruption.
It was devised in the aftermath of judges’ restoration movement (2007-2009) with a view to improve the performance of the justice sector in order to enhance public trust in the administration of justice.
The NJP, formulated by the National Judicial Policy Making Committee (NJPMC), provided short- and long-term measures for expeditious disposal of the cases and set time limits to decide the matters of different categories and it said that priority should be given to dispose of old cases.
The chief justice of Pakistan is chairman of the NJPMC, while the FSC chief justice and chief justices of the five high courts are its members.
However, according to data collected by the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, 88,661 and 130,327 old cases — filed up to Dec 31, 2017 — were waiting to meet the ends of justice at the five high courts and subordinate judiciary of the country, respectively, until April 30.
Published in Dawn, July 13th, 2022