Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry has said that the Supreme Court is striving to discharge its constitutional duty of securing the principles of democracy, equality, freedom and social justice as enunciated by Islam.
"When might becomes right, the entire fabric of the society is rendered fragile. Resultantly, people are compelled to take the law in their own hands. Therefore, using the modern terminology, upholding the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law is the only solution to all social evils and economic problems," he added.
He said that Islam aimed at establishing a society where there was no one above the law, and all persons whether high or low, powerful or weak, rich or poor - all were equal before law, and equally treated.
He said that the judiciary had a primary role in the justice delivery system. However, all the authorities and institutions, including executive and the legislature, had to render auxiliary support and cooperation in the administration of justice and execution of the judicial process.
"The principle of trichotomy of powers embedded in the provisions of the Constitution aims at creating an atmosphere of harmony and collaboration among all the State institutions in order to achieve the goal of fair dispensation of justice," he added.
The CJP said that the judiciary had been specifically invested with the power of judicial review in order to check arbitrary excesses and deviations for sustainable development of the justice system and securing the enforcement of fundamental rights of the people.
"I feel pride in mentioning that in the recent years, judiciary as the third pillar of State has successfully emerged as a savior and a protector of constitutional supremacy and fundamental rights. Judicial activism on the part of apex Court has not only ameliorated the judicial system as a whole, but has also enhanced public trust and confidence in the institution," he added.
He said adherence to the constitutional norms of equality before law and equal protection of law by the apex Court in all its verdicts had curtailed the constitutional excesses of the State institutions and private individuals; and also curbed the social evils of corruption, kidnapping, abduction, forced disappearances, target killings, terrorism and violation of human rights to a great extent.
He said the complete solution to these social evils was not possible without the active participation and coordination of all the stakeholders in the discharge of constitutional duties of maintaining peace and establishing rule of law.
About the New Judicial Year, he said that they got an opportunity to renew their commitment, zeal and zest to fulfill their constitutional obligation of administering justice to all without fear or favour, ill-will or affection, honestly and in accordance with the Constitution and the law.
He called upon the bench and the bar to sit together and analyze the working of the institution of judiciary as a whole for a better understanding of the contemporary challenges and problems confronting the justice system and evolving new strategies to address and resolve the same.
About performance of judiciary, the CJP said that they were living in an era of fast information technology, where knowledge and information sharing had become far easiest.
"It is common knowledge that whatever transpires in our courtrooms is instantly before the people even in the remotest areas of the country. So, the performance of the Court these days is no more something, which needs to be brought to the notice of anyone. It is already known to everyone and is before the whole nation, rather before the whole world," he opined.
He said there was a continuous stress upon the administration of justice to ensure that the disputes were resolved at the earliest, and in any case, within a reasonable time-frame.
He said however, while making efforts to achieve this end, judges must keep in mind that their efficiency correlated to, and was consistent with, maintaining the quality of justice because the requirements of fairness, due process and competence could be compromised in the name of efficiency.
The CJP said the success of the Judicial Policy might be gauged from the fact that by the grace of Allah until 31 December, 2010, the above figure was successfully reduced to about 1.35 million cases, despite institution of more than 3.2 million new cases.
The successful implementation of Judicial Policy did encourage the general public to have recourse to the justice system for redress of their grievances, as such, the rate of institution of fresh cases increased enormously, he added.
He informed that from 1st January, 2011 to 31st May, 2012, i.e., within a period of less than one and a half years, over 4.1 million fresh cases were instituted in the District as well as Superior Judiciaries.
Thus, despite disposal of more than 4.0 million cases, the grand total of pending cases jumped to over 1.5 million cases by 31st May, 2012 and over 1.6 million by 15th August, 2012.
Though the increase in institution points to the confidence of public litigants in the judicial system of the Country the independent judiciary, but at the same time it was a matter of great concern for all the stakeholders because in any case the disputes must be resolved quickly.
He said there were numerous reasons for delay in disposal of cases. One was the shortage of judicial officers at district level. Presently there are 177, 87, 102, 103 and 79 posts of Judicial Officers lying vacant in the provinces of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Islamabad Capital Territory respectively.
He said with regard to the pendency of cases in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, it may be mentioned that during the period from 1st September, 2011 to 27th August, 2012, 12,902 new cases were instituted whereas 11,243 cases were disposed of.
The details of the break up were that at the Principal Seat Islamabad, 6757 new cases were instituted whereas 6227 cases were decided; at Lahore Branch Registry 4315 new cases were instituted whereas 4296 cases were decided; at Karachi Branch Registry 647 new cases were instituted whereas 794 cases were decided; at Peshawar Branch Registry 833 new cases were instituted whereas 492 cases were decided; and at Quetta Branch Registry, 350 new cases were instituted whereas 230 cases were decided.
Despite, such a high rate of disposal, there was still a balance of 21,511 cases. The plans to deal with the backlog were discussed in the succeeding pages.
The Human Rights Cell, established in the Supreme Court under the public interest litigation jurisdiction for redressal of grievances received 43,458 applications from 1st September, 2011 to 31st July, 2012 out of which 38,253 were disposed of.