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Reforming Judicial System for Pending Cases! By Kashif Mirza


Jun 17, 2022

The writer is an

economist, anchor,

analyst and the

President of All

 Pakistan Private

Schools’ Federation



The level of civilization in a society can be judged by entering their prisons. A true picture of the state of the justice system and the administration of justice will emerge from the functioning of the courts and the number of cases pending. Pakistan’s post-colonial legal system is old-fashioned, facing modern challenges and failing to meet the country’s growing needs for global integration, reliable trade transactions and justice for the common man. A framework for legal and judicial reforms is urgently needed to ensure internal peace and harmony. A report by the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021 shows that Pakistan is among the lowest-performing countries in terms of its adherence to the rule of law, ranked 130th out of 139. Even in South Asia, Pakistan’s position is second only to last. Nepal, Sri Lanka, India, and Bangladesh has all performed better than Pakistan in the rule of law while only Afghanistan is limited under Pakistan in the region. Fifty-three thousand cases are pending in the Supreme Court, about 300,000 cases in five high courts and about 2.2 million cases are pending in four provinces and the state capital, according to the Pakistan Law and Justice Commission. Over the past five years, the number of cases pending in the Supreme Court has more than four-time reaching the highest level in the last 25years. In 2006, the number of pending cases was 13,724. There are currently 2,159,655 cases pending in Pakistani courts which are being heard or will be heard by 3,067 judges in the country. Out of these, in several cases, the parties to a case have passed away and their descendants are now seeking a remedy from the courts. 

In district and high courts across the country, 1,048 posts of judges lie vacant waiting to be filled. The Supreme Court of Pakistan has to hear 53,138 pending cases with a total strength of 17 judges, of which one post is vacant. The Federal Shariat Court, on the other hand, has 178 pending cases only. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has only one vacancy for a judge left to be filled while the number of pending cases currently amount to 16,374. The district and sessions court of Islamabad have 51,849 pending cases with a sanctioned strength of 103 judges. Of these, 70 are working while 33 seats are vacant. As far as the provincial breakdown is concerned, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has a sanctioned strength of 60, but has only 50 judges with 193,030 pending cases. In Punjab’s district and sessions courts, 1,345,632 civil and family cases are pending. The Punjab district judiciary has a sanctioned strength of 2,364 judges, of which 1,616 judges have been appointed while 748 vacancies are yet to be filled. The Sindh High Court has a sanctioned strength of 40 judges out of which six posts are vacant. As many as 83,150 cases are still pending. In the district judiciary of Sindh, out of 622 judges, 568 are performing their duties while there are 54 vacancies to be filled. The number of pending cases in the district judiciary amount to 115,296. The Peshawar High Court (PHC) should have a total of 20 judges but is five short from the sanctioned number. The court has 42,180 pending cases to hear. The number of cases pending in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district and sessions courts have amounted to 240,436. The number of judges appointed in the district and sessions court is 596 while 124 seats are yet to be filled. The Baluchistan High Court (BHC) has a total number of 15 judges allowed but is five judges short. The total number of pending cases in the high court are 4,663. The province’s district judiciary have 208 judges while the sanctioned strength is 270. A total of 15,729 cases are pending. The result is that 59439 people are currently being held in 21527 authorized detention centers, 32 in 32 Provincial Prisons. Prisoners under trial are four times the number of prisoners. The number of convicts is 69% and the number of convicted and convicted prisoners is 19.50% and 11.50%. 

It is clear that there is an urgent need of Judicial Reforms for pending cases, because the present justice system is ineffective, rampant and slippery and the current state of law and order in the country shows that people are losing faith in the ability to administer justice in order to resolve their grievances. The magnitude and magnitude of the problems and these issues require in-depth research to take corrective action before the whole system collapses, chaos and chaos in the community. According to the UN Human Development Report, Pakistan is ranked 147th out of 188 countries, with a population development index of 0.550, less than India and Bangladesh, and approximately 24.3% of the population lived below the poverty line, the huge inequality of income and wealth in Pakistan is also one of the causes of this dire news situation. Our justice system was not designed to make things easy for regular people. The problem of access to justice had already reached critical proportions with low-income receiving inadequate or no professional legal help for 96% of the civil legal problems they faced. The complex language, the behavioral protocols and even the design of courthouses themselves all seem as if they were intentionally configured to put up barriers between judges and lawyers and the rest of us. The most important stakeholders in the justice system are the citizens, and ensuring that they have access to justice is the most important challenge that needs to be overcome. In the status quo, we see that accessing justice in the first place is the problem. Subsequent governments and parliaments in the country have failed to enact legislation and take policy measures to ensure economic and social justice for the common man in the country. Unfortunately, the performance of our law enforcement authorities, accounting agencies, and law enforcement agencies, especially at the grassroots level, leaves much to be desired. In particular, the police need a radical change in order to be more efficient and to accommodate the people in carrying out their law enforcement and criminal activities. Police and other law-enforcement agencies are seen as hostile, especially for the majority of the underprivileged population. For women, accessing justice is all the more challenging. Character shaming, incredulity, and bribery are major challenges that citizens face when dealing with the law enforcement and justice system. Perhaps technology can empower citizens to hold the law-enforcement system accountable.

The legal system in Pakistan still heavily relies on traditional methods of working and the major one is paperwork. Over the last few years, technology has increasingly been pitched as a solution to that problem. It is of utmost importance that the Court House is made efficient, affordable, intelligent and smart through technology. The widespread accessibility of video conferencing has made it so that people do not necessarily have to take time off work to participate in a hearing or a trial, while the growth of alternative dispute resolution tools, e-filing and digital evidence platforms all have shown the potential to transform the courtroom. Technological and scientific developments are generating huge opportunities for tackling societal challenges. However, the benefits of technology and innovation are unequally distributed, and they tend to cause economic and political disruptions in our societies that widen inequalities. The introduction of e-courts by the Supreme Court of Pakistan where cases can be heard via video link is a welcome addition to the current setup where complainants and witnesses have to bear the cost of travel and stay for hearings, something that otherwise deters them from using the justice system. Similar arrangements for recording witness statements via video will also help the cause of justice. Whereas technology can be an important enabler in accessing and dispensing justice, it is essential that the limitations of technology be kept in mind when glamorizing it or relying on it too much. Whereas it would be helpful for judges, as announced by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, to use artificial intelligence to access previous precedents and case law on specific cases, letting them make a decision based on computed facts may be a bit of a stretch.

The World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index 2021 shows that Pakistan is among the lowest-performing countries in terms of its adherence to the rule of law, ranked 130th out of 139.

In fact, the current system of governance in Pakistan is undoubtedly oppressive and oppressive. It is exploitative because it unjustly rewards the elite with excessive economic benefits by losing the poor contrary to Islamic law and social norms, which require the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. The leading theme of reforms has been the development of judicial efficiency and speed of justice. The love of ‘speed’ has also diverted attention to other important aspects of the judicial process, as well as the quality of judgment proclamations. It has therefore reduced the chances that the formal justice system will deal with conflict in the community; and the pursuit of greater distributional justice, fairness and equity through judicial interpretations of extant laws. It is very important to shift the focus of the discussion of the transformation of the justice system in Pakistan from technical and legal only to legal and social justice. There is a need for a renewed focus on reform of national and international innovation systems and R&D policies, in an attempt to create a new consensus on how public-private partnerships can contribute to more open and sustainable use of technology. More open-source access for technologies should be sought. It is essential to assure an open diffusion of knowledge, innovations and technologies in the design of development policies. Development policies should support redistributive systems and incentives for the successful application of new technologies. Legal frameworks should be promoted to enable innovation and the use of new technologies. Improve the education of the left-behind countries through global schemes. Technological justice should be linked to the SDG Agenda. As a result, the timeframe for proposals should coincide with the 2030 horizon.

The judiciary, the legal community and civil society have come together with a shared vision for a Digital Legal Pakistan. They say that justice delayed is justice denied, hopefully, with Judicial reforms for pending cases along with the intervention of legal tech, we will be able to change that. It is important that the laws are fair and respect fundamental constitutional rights, and that they provide sufficient protections to citizens rather than demonizing their use of technology to exercise rights. Moreover, the laws must not be abused by the state against dissidents and whistleblowers. We are at a pivotal moment in the development of the court system; we have an opportunity to truly raise the game and modernize arcane processes that have been creating unnecessary barriers to justice for far too long. We are talking about the independence of the judiciary and the strengthening of the administration of justice in order to provide justice and freedom for citizens. Only an effective and efficient justice system can ensure the protection of fundamental constitutional rights of the citizens and the independence of the judiciary.

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