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Thursday, March 23, 2023

Has Pakistan’s governance system become corrupt?

According to the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (L&JCP), a total of 1,873,085 cases were pending disposal in all the superior and subordinate courts of Pakistan as of November 30, 2017. Is Pakistan’s governance system corrupt?

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The governance system in Pakistan has become corrupt, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah said Thursday. He expressed the belief that people do not even have access to “cheap and speedy justice.”

He was hearing cases against the rising number of crimes in Islamabad, obstacles in the delivery of justice, issues pertaining to naval farms and housing societies.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability and Interior Mirza Shahzad Akbar also appeared before the court.

Pointing out the flaws in the justice system, Justice Minallah said district courts, which are meant to deal with the problems of the common man, had never been anyone’s priority. In response, the PM’s adviser said he has already briefed Prime Minister Imran Khan regarding the matter.

“You are the adviser on accountability, so I suggest you go to the accountability courts yourself and examine the conditions there,” Justice Minallah said. “The judges in those courts do not even have the staff for dictation. There is a lot of work pressure on those courts, but there is an acute dearth of staff.”

Read more: Model Courts: How a silent revolution in Pakistan’s judiciary transforming its course?

The chief justice added that the Supreme Court of Pakistan has repeatedly stressed courts to hear cases on a daily basis, adding that judges are “ready to work day and night if the executives cooperate with them.”

Pending cases in courts

It is important to note that according to the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan (L&JCP), a total of 1,873,085 cases were pending disposal in all the superior and subordinate courts of Pakistan as of November 30, 2017. As per the statistics compiled by the L&JCP, the Supreme Court has 38,071 cases pending till November 30, 2017.

All five high courts have a huge number of 293,316 cases, which are yet to be decided. Of them, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has 147,633 pending cases; the Sindh High Court (SHC) has 93,404 undecided cases; the Peshawar High Court (PHC) has a pendency of 29,525 cases; the Baluchistan High Court (BHC) has 6,510 cases awaiting decisions; and the IHC has 16,244 pending cases.

Furthermore, according to the report, the district judiciary session judges, additional session judges, senior civil judges, and civil judges are also faced with an enormous pendency of 1,541,119 cases. Although Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is small in size compared to Sindh, its district judiciary has more than double undecided cases.

The district judiciary of Punjab has 1,187,076 pending cases; the district judiciary of Sindh has 99,820; the district judiciary of KP has 204,209 cases; the district judiciary of Baluchistan has 13,009 cases, and the district judiciary of Islamabad has 37,005 cases awaiting disposal.

Legal experts argue that the judges should ensure speedy trials but it is humanly not possible to deal with such a huge number of cases. Therefore, there is an urgent need to appoint new judicial officers. But at the same time, experts maintain that the selection process should ensure competence since the initial process of the cases in lower courts is very important where evidence is collected and framed.