Dispensation of justice by Apex Court – Part 1
Huzaima Bukhari, Dr. Ikramul Haq & Syed Muhammad Ijaz
This article consists of two parts, Part I, presents an analysis on efforts of Apex Court of Pakistan in dispensation of justice as highlighted in annual report [hereinafter as “the report”] for the period from June 2018 to May 2019 as issued by Supreme Court of Pakistan on its website on August 22, 2022 [https://www.supremecourt.gov.pk/downloads/?wpdmc=annual-reports]. Whereas part two focuses on important cases decided by the court during this period.
The annual report consists of 14 chapters and 200+ pages namely; Chapter 1 Foreword by Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan, Chapter 2 Registrar’s Report, Chapter 3. Profiles of the Chief Justice and Judges, Chapter 4. Supreme Court of Pakistan, Chapter 5. Court Performance, Chapter 6. Statistical Data Analysis, Chapter 8 Important Cases Decided by the Supreme Court, Chapter 9 The Court and Its Registries, Chapter 10. Pictorial Presentation of Events, Chapter 11. Activities of the Chief Justice of Pakistan and Judges, Chapter 12. Supreme Court of Pakistan and the Media, Chapter 13. Information on the Administration of Justice and Chapter 14. Former Chief Justices, Judges and Registrars.
At page 3 of the report registrar of the Apex Court highlighted the No of cases pending in the court he states “On 1st June, 2018 pendency of the cases in the Court stood at 40091. From 1st June, 2018 to 31st May, 2019, 22526 new cases were filed, which raised the pendency figures to 62617. However, during this period 19564 cases were decided, thereby reducing the overall pendency to 43053”. As per his report during the period from 1st of June 2018 to 31st May 2019 pendency rose from 40091 to 43053 [registering a net increase of 2962 cases]. His report highlights that difference between the new cases and the cases disposed of is also 2962. Adding a burden of 2962 cases on already pending 40091 cases highlights need for transformation in judicial system for a speedy justice [For which many of the steps have already been taken by the Apex Court like establishing model courts and E-Courts], yet many more steps like increasing the No of judges in order to tackle more cases is still required. There is also a lot of work to be done at the part of legislature for transforming laws and executive for better and improved prosecution.
Principle seat and Branch registry wise pendency as on June 1, 2018 stood as under; Islamabad 16687 Lahore 16307 Karachi 1612 Peshawar 4511 Quetta 974 and Total 40091 [5.4 Pendency of cases]
Category wise institution of disposal position for the principle seat and the branch registry is as follows; Civil Petitions Opening 19008 instituted during the period 12818 disposed of during the period 10201 Closing 21625 [as on May 31, 2019]. Civil Appeals Opening 9324 instituted during the period 3007 disposed of during the period 2858 Closing 9473 [as on May 31, 2019]. Criminal Petitions Opening 3830 instituted during the period 3496 disposed of during the period 2673 Closing 4653 [as on May 31, 2019]. Criminal Appeals Opening 1050 instituted during the period 766 disposed of during the period 1470 Closing 346 [as on May 31, 2019]
Report of the registrar further highlights that on human rights front performance of the Apex Court albite scarcity of resources was really commendable he mentions “During the period, Human Rights Cell received applications/ complaints from the poor, downtrodden and vulnerable segments of society. On 1st June 2018 pendency of cases in Human Right Cell stood at 10841 and during the reported period 97885 new applications/ complaints were received, which raised the pendency figures to 108726 out of which 105617 were disposed of and overall pendency stood at 3109”. As apparent from the figures Apex Court managed to reduce pendency from 10841 to 3109.
Chapter 5 page 49 of the report highlights that 8315 old cases have been weeded out Apex Court observed that “During the period under report special directions were issued to Weeding Section of the Court to expedite the process of weeding of files of old cases, as a result whereof 8315 number of cases were weeded out.
Main registry and branch registry wise institution and disposal of cases stood as under; Total cases instituted 22526 Total cases disposed of 19564 [Islamabad registry Instituted 12881 Disposed of 12051, Lahore registry Instituted 1544 Disposed of 739, Karachi registry Instituted 5551 Disposed of 4421, Peshawar registry Instituted 2167 Disposed of 1901 and Quetta registry Instituted 383 Disposed of 452] [5.3 Institution and Disposal of Cases from June 2018 – May 2019]
Year wise and decade wise data relating to Institution and disposal of Appeals and Petitions by Honorable Supreme Court is provided at Sr. No. 6.2 to 6.4 respectively. Decade wise data is as under;
Cases 1960 [Petitions 199, Appeals 288, Total 487] 1970 [Petitions 1478, Appeals 541, Total 2019] 1980 [Petitions 2519, Appeals 1334, Total 3853] 1990 [Petitions 3999, Appeals 1301, Total 5300] 2000 [Petitions 8647, Appeals 3055, Total 11702] 2010 [Petitions 10857, Appeals 4054, Total 14911] 2011 [Petitions 8783, Appeals 3700, Total 12483] 2012 [Petitions 9066, Appeals 3754, Total 12820] 2013 [Petitions 10877, Appeals 4811, Total 15688] 2014 [Petitions 11164, Appeals 4753, Total 15917] 2015 [Petitions 13433, Appeals 3231, Total 16664] 2016 [Petitions 15328, Appeals 4154, Total 19482] 2017 [Petitions 14267, Appeals 3733, Total 18000] and 2018 [Petitions 16070, Appeals 3395, Total 19465] [6.4 Institution of Petitions and Appeals over the last six decades]
Another area where disposal of Apex Court was very swift and outmatched any other area was expatriates case wing where total cases instituted during the period were 688 disposed of during the period were 662 and in process were 26 [7.3 Expatriate Pakistanis’ Wing Institution & Disposal of Cases from June 2018 to May 2019]
The above data shows that beside all the efforts poured in by Honorable Supreme Court, still there is a need to increase in No of judges, there is a dire need for correction and amendment in laws [the part which relates to legislature] strong prosecution [the part that relates to the executive] and investment in technology and human resource development. The heart breaking fact is total budget of Honorable Supreme Court of Pakistan that stood at PKR 1.964B as against actual expenditure of PKR 1.806B that stood 0.033 percent of the total budget. It seems justice and education is the least priority of the government. Quality of justice can only be improved if ample sources are put at the disposal of Honorable Supreme Court. Within these limited resources, efforts of the Apex Court are really commendable.
The writers, lawyers and partners of Huzaima, Ikram & Ijaz. Huzaima and Ikram are adjunct faculty of Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and Syed Muhammad Ijaz is that of Beaconhouse National University (BNU).