LAHORE – MIAN DAWOOD - More than 140,000 cases of different nature are currently pending with the Lahore High Court (LHC), a situation which shows that the National Judicial Policy (NJP) has not brought about the desired results.

According to an official report, 62,556 of the pending cases are civil, while 17,166 are criminal. The report further discloses that 108,689 civil and 31,942 criminal cases are pending until May 2012.

“1,048 cases until the year 2000; 8,499 cases of 2001-05; 14,133 cases of 2006-08; 38,876 cases of 2009-11; and 46,133 cases of 2011-12 cases are pending with the HC,” the report points out.

The report further says, in the criminal category, 220 cases until the year 2000; 1,415 cases of 2001-05; 3,530 cases of 2006-08; 11,951 cases of 2009-11; and 14,626 cases of 2011-12 were waiting for the their fate by the judges of the LHC.

Among criminal cases, 3,680 are related to terrorism offences, while 2,531 are appeals filed in cases of imprisonment up to seven years.

If compared with the previous reports issued by the Statistics Branch, the decision ratio of the oldest cases is not encouraging. Though the NJP had set one year as the maximum time limit to decide the criminal cases with three days as minimum time for decision, these cases have not yet been finalised by LHC judges despite the passage of over a decade. Likewise, the NJP had set not more than four to six-month time for the decisions on different types of civil cases.

Senior lawyers believe the main cause of pending cases is shortage of judges against their constitutional strength, 60, at the LHC, wherein only 37 judges are busy dispensing justice to the masses.

Punjab Bar Council (PbBC) Vice Chairman Malik Ghulam Abbas Nissoana says the cases are pending because of acute shortage of the judges. “It is the duty of the government to fill the vacant posts of judges for dispensing the justice speedily,” Nissoana suggested. He vows to motivate the legal fraternity to play their role in providing justice to the masses.

“We are ready to work with the judiciary if the government fulfils its responsibility by filling all 23 vacant posts of judges at the LHC,” PbBC Vice Chairman Nissoana promises.

He says the strikes by lawyers are another major reason behind the huge number of pending cases at the LHC; however, the dispute could be resolved with mutual understanding. Nissoana also requested Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to play his role in getting filled the vacant posts of judges.