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Sunday Dec 31 2017

Over 0.2m cases could not be heard due to lawyers’ strikes: LHC chief justice

The Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court Mansoor Ali Shah while addressing an event on December 31, 2017. Photo: Geo News screen grab  

LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Mansoor Ali Shah criticised Sunday the frequent strikes by the legal fraternity, and shared that the lawyers should only protest issues they deeply care about.

Sharing statistics, he pointed out that 240,000 additional cases could have been heard if it weren’t for 3,040 strikes by lawyers in 2017.

While addressing an event in Lahore, CJ LHC remarked that it makes no sense for lawyers to protest issues which do not relate to Pakistan.

Most recently, the legal fraternity boycotted courts following the suicide attack in a church in Quetta, which claimed nine lives. Before, the lawyers had staged a demonstration against US President Donald Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Lawyers in Multan protested for seven consecutive days recently over the shifting of the judicial complex. The protest ended after Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar ruled to reopen the old judicial complex until adequate facilities are ensured in the new complex.

During their protest, some lawyers had turned violent and were caught on camera vandalising public property.

‘One judge for 62,000 people in Lahore’

The LHC CJ lamented the lack of judges in the city and shared that one judge is available for 62,000 people in Lahore.

He remarked that Punjab has a total population of 110 million, and a total of 1,731 judges. “This amounts to one judge per 62,000 people.”

On the contrary, in a developed nation such as Germany, there is one judge is per 4,000 people. “If we have 10,000 judges then we can compete on an international level,” he added.

“Our judges are working on a target of 70,” he said, adding “Despite facing many challenges, the judges are working with hard work and integrity.”

On the tensions between bar members and the judges, he encouraged the bar members to approach him and sort the issue. “I request them [bar members] to come talk to me, no one needs to misbehave with one another.”

He also remarked that there is a need to draw a distinction between getting upset with him and reforming the system. “If I say I take any action, then it will be a part of disappointment or reforming system,” he asked.

“I don't want to get recommendations asking for the transfer of judges. How can this lead to disappointment?”

'Misperception that courts aren't working'

CJ Shah also pointed out that there is a misperception that courts are working. 

He assured that work is being done. Sharing some statistics, he remarked that three million cases were filed before the court, of which verdicts were given in 2.1 million cases.