Consolidated Disposal Report from district courts is sent to IHC each month

ISLAMABAD   -   The Rs 1.35 Billion District Judicial Complex of Islamabad (Katchehri) was inaugurated by Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Amer Farooq in late November 2023 after almost 60 years of hardship faced by bench, bar, and litigants at old Katchehri in sector F-8 Islamabad. 

The Complex is divided into 2 blocks East and West. The blocks have their own Session Judges, the East block which has almost 34 courts that mostly deal with civil cases, and the West block which has around the same number of courts that deal mostly with criminal cases. There is one E-court for each block as well. 20,000 litigants enter the complex each day with approximately 3000 cases collectively listed on the cause list of each court of the complex. Approximately 300-350 prisoners are brought in the prison vans from Central Prison, Adiala, Rawalpindi cases as well. As a court lower and special court reporter, the curiosity lies among journalists to find about court data which is institution, disposal, and pendency at the district courts which are trial courts for all the cases. Special courts such as Accountability Courts, Anti-Terrorism Courts, Narcotics Courts, etc. have a proper website that lists cases of all courts on the website but still doesn’t have monthly or yearly institution, disposal, and pendency data on that website. 

The District Courts of Islamabad have none of the above. They are administered by the Islamabad High Court but there’s no data available on any website rather they’re in “the process” of acquiring a website domain right now. Some say pendency is around 70,000 and some say it’s 55,000 but none of the number is confirmed from the official data. The consolidated data of institution, disposal, and pendency of each court of the District Judicial Complex is shared with the Islamabad High Court at the beginning of each month but it’s never made public. The Nation tried to acquire data from District Courts Islamabad in April this year. A written application was filed on April 08th and was given to Superintendents of both East and West blocks. Muhammad Siddique, admin superintendent of both courts straight away told the reporter that the application was denied and its “secret data” couldn’t go public, when this reporter requested Siddique to give that in writing he replied to come back after 30 minutes.

The same application was submitted in the East Block of the complex and the Superintendent there took the application to Session Judge East Shahrukh Arjumand and suggested an application written to the registrar of IHC since it’s a policy matter. On the other hand, Session Judge West, Azam Khan, marked the application with his signature saying, “Data cannot be shared without permission of the Honorable Islamabad High Court.” 

Another application was drafted by The Nation which gave reference of the Right to Access to Information Act, 2017, and reference to the Judgement of Chief Justice of Pakistan, Qazi Faez Issa, in Civil Petition 3532/2023 where he directed to public data of Supreme Court required by the petitioner under section 19-A of Constitution of Pakistan. The application was submitted at Islamabad High Court on April 09th and diary number 1816 was acquired from the concerned department of the IHC. Upon follow-up from various departments of IHC applications by The Nation from different sections have reached CJ Islamabad High Court office by the end of April. When the application was at the table of CJ Islamabad High Court, Amer Farooq, bench-wise Disposal Report of Islamabad High Court was made public on May 4th, for April. These disposal reports never come out monthly either from the Supreme Court or Islamabad High Court or are made public. This reporter from The Nation received a phone call from the official number of IHC on May 09th that directions have been forwarded to both Session Judges of District Judicial Complex Islamabad and during the inquiry it was found out that the website is in the development phase right now and the website is finished they’re directed to upload the data there. The Nation already had that knowledge that some websites have been under development for the past couple of years and will take around 6 months. It also came to the knowledge of The Nation that the data was made public only twice in the last ten years. The correspondence among IHC and District Courts was official and it wasn’t given to The Nation. Rather, The Nation was told to visit both Session judges of District Courts. 

Staff of Session Judge East Shahrukh Arjumand told The Nation that we’ve received a note from Islamabad High Court and we’ll make the data public when the website is ready. The Nation also appeared in front of Judge Shahrukh Arjumand in an open court and Judge Arjumand acknowledged the directions of IHC and said, “It’s not secret data and it’s the right of the citizens to get this data but we’ll have to wait for the website”. 

The Nation also appeared in front of Session Judge West Azam Khan in an open court and asked about the note of IHC, Judge Azam Khan denied knowledge of any note directed from Islamabad High Court and told the reporter to inquire from Superintendent M. Siddique. M. Siddique denied receiving any note from IHC and said, that maybe East Black had received their note from IHC but we didn’t so we can’t do anything about it. 

The Nation went back to Islamabad High Court and found out that letter number 605 was delivered from IHC on May 07th and there is documentary evidence available at IHC that staff of both judges have received the letter. 

It has been accepted throughout the world that, data is the first step of accountability. The data from each court would release so much information about trends within the judiciary about dealing with all the cases. The latest ranking of Pakistan in the judiciary in the world is 130th. The only way now seems to get north of this number is to make data of each court public at the end of each month so the taxpayers know the performance of the judiciary.

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