ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Umar Ata Bandial Monday said that the Supreme Court had decided 23,000 cases in one year that included the constitutional issues filed before the Court.
He said the court was tested several times in February 2023 with matters pertaining to the Constitution of Pakistan. “I don’t want to repeat all that has happened but it is reflected in part in the decision announced last week [audio leaks case],” the CJP further said.
CJP Bandial expressed these views while he was addressing a Full Court held for New Judicial Year on Monday. Attorney General for Pakistan Mansoor Usman Awan, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) Haroon-ur-Rasheed and Supreme Court Bar Association President Abid Shahid Zuberi also spoke on the occasion. The CJP said that there was no difference among judges on holding of general elections in 90 days. He added, “None of us alone in this cause.” He said that the difficulties arose when there was no political stability. He also said, “We all want political stability, because without it there can’t be economic and other progress. I know that my successor is conscious of the all the issues. He is very able person.”
The CJP said the Supreme Court had duty to interpret the Constitution and laws. “In CMA we have laid down procedures for taking suo moto. In nine months we have taken only one suo moto,” he said.
He remarked that in summer the judges worked tirelessly in writing judgments and hearing cases in the courts. “We have worked 13 to 16 hours daily. My innocent statement ‘short and sweet judgment’ turned into sarcastic statement. My greeting words ‘Good to see’ were also misreported and taken out of context. We are able to enhance the scope of arguments by the lawyers through video-link. In one year 10,000 people utilized the facilities, top of using this facility is Lahore, second is Peshawar then Karachi, Quetta and Islamabad,” the Chief Justice said.
Justice Bandial said with the help of Law and Justice Commission Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) had been introduced throughout the country, adding with its effective usage the burden on courts would reduce. At the end, the chief justice appreciated the role of media, saying they were the eyes and ears of the society. He also thanked SC judges. “I want my brothers and sister judges the manner I got their support.” He said the judges of the apex court were independent mind, fearless and extra-ordinary intellectuals, adding they had difference of opinion, which was good for growth of the institution. He maintained, “As an outgoing chief justice I must share that I have learned not only through their consensus, but with their differences, as they have no serious grievance towards me.” AGP Mansoor in his address said that the apex court must dedicate more of its time and energy to cases under its appellate jurisdiction, under Article 185 of the constitution, than it does to its original jurisdiction, under Article 184(3).
He said the exercise of original jurisdiction, especially in what are often called as “high profile or political cases”, usually required the SC judges to sit in special benches at the expense of the Court’s appellate function which, if I may say so, is this Court’s primary function and duty.
He added that the original jurisdiction must be used sparingly and in the most extraordinary cases. The constitution required that this jurisdiction ought to be exercised for matters of public importance related to the enforcement of fundamental rights only. The AGP marked that the court must remain cautious of the principles of separation of powers. When the court disregarded these principles, it encroached upon the domains of legislature and executive. Such use of the original jurisdiction of the court not only diverted the court’s time and energy from performing its primary constitutional purpose, but also attracted controversy both within the court and outside.