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Friday Jun 18 2021

How many cases are pending in Pakistan's courts and why?

  • As of now, there are 2,159,655 pending cases across various Pakistani courts.
  • As many as 3,067 judges are hearing or will hear these cases.
  • The Supreme Court of Pakistan has 51,138 pending cases.

There are currently 2,159,655 cases pending in Pakistani courts which are being heard or will be heard by 3,067 judges in the country.

Out of these, in several cases, the parties to a case have passed away and their descendents are now seeking remedy from the courts.

In district and high courts across the country, 1,048 posts of judges lie vacant waiting to be filled.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has to hear 51,138 pending cases with a total strength of 17 judges, of which two posts are vacant.

The Federal Shariat Court, on the other hand, has 178 pending cases only.

Punjab courts

As far as the provincial breakdown is concerned, the Lahore High Court (LHC) has a sanctioned strength of 60, but has only 50 judges with 193,030 pending cases.

In Punjab's district and sessions courts, 1,345,632 civil and family cases are pending. The Punjab district judiciary has a sanctioned strength of 2,364 judges, of which 1,616 judges have been appointed while 748 vacancies are yet to be filled.

Sindh courts

The Sindh High Court has a sanctioned strength of 40 judges out of which six posts are vacant. As many as 83,150 cases are still pending. In the district judiciary of Sindh, out of 622 judges, 568 are performing their duties while there are 54 vacancies to be filled. The number of pending cases in the district judiciary amount to 115,296.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa courts

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) should have a total of 20 judges, but is five short from the sanctioned number. The court has 42,180 pending cases to hear.

The number of cases pending in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa district and sessions courts have amounted to 240,436. The number of judges appointed in the district and sessions court is 596 while 124 seats are yet to be filled.

Balochistan courts

The Balochistan High Court (BHC) has a total number of 15 judges allowed, but is five judges short. The total number of pending cases in the high court are 4,663.

The province's district judiciary have 208 judges while the sanctioned strength is 270. A total of 15,729 cases are pending.

Islamabad courts

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has only one vacancy for a judge left to be filled while the number of pending cases currently amount to 16,374.

The district and sessions court of Islamabad have 51,849 pending cases with a sanctioned strength of 103 judges. Of these, 70 are working while 33 seats are vacant.

Why are pending cases on the rise?

Legal experts blame the rising number of pending cases on various reasons. Former additional attorney general Shah Khawar spoke to Geo News to say that the speed of wrapping up cases is quite slow compared to the number of appeals filed against cases.

He said that if a bench is constituted of a single judge then the backlog of cases can be cleared speedily.

Veteran lawyer and Senator Kamran Murtaza said the rising number of pending cases in courts can also be taken in a positive light, adding that it reflects the masses' growing trust in Pakistan's judiciary.

Speaking on the increase in pending cases, Murtaza said if judges were to announce a timeframe for cases then it would leave the judicial process incomplete.

He said judges often played a "loose ball", explaining that often judges don't have sound expertise over a legal matter, owing to which their verdicts are challenged. Murtaza added that often clients also adopt delaying tactics to stall verdicts of cases.

Legal experts are of the view that if the government wants to clear the backlog of cases, it can do so by appointing additional and ad hoc judges.